This past year has been one of change for the Whistler Museum. Our Executive Director, Leah Batisse, moved back to Ontario in April after nearly three years and I stepped into the helm. We also lost our Programs & Marketing manager, Alix Mackay who went to study architecture at UBC.
However, as much as I loved the old team our new team is just as strong. Our new Programs & Marketing manager Jeff Slack, is a long-term local and history masters graduate with a great passion for Whistler and its backcountry. Our new Collections Manager Bradley Nichols, has a background in Museology and an equal passion for Whistler’s mountain bike scene. Both had worked in the museum before as summer students, so were ready to roll their sleeves up and jump straight into the fray.
Lots of people assume that working in the Whistler Museum is a relaxing job, but I can honestly tell you that it is the busiest job I’ve ever had. Not that I’m complaining, as I love the work, but with all our events that we put on, from the Speaker Series, to kids crafts to our LEGO building competitions there is plenty to keep us on our toes.
Not to mention what goes on behind the scenes with the collection. The Museum has tens of thousands of photographs, letters, videos, memoirs and oral history interviews and all of them need to be properly housed, cared for and catalogued. Quite a task!
Of course, the most significant event for the museum this year was a very sad one. Our founder, the wonderful Florence Petersen, passed away unexpectedly in August and the museum, along with the rest of the community was in mourning for this kind, warm and bright lady that had given so much to Whistler. She is missed terribly by the museum staff and we wish she were here to see the incredible success of her new book First Tracks which has almost sold out of its first printing in a matter of months.
In 2013 the museum is looking to continue pressing on at its ever-busy pace. We have been digitizing the Whistler Answer in the last few months and we expect to have it online for all to access by February. We have also been granted $15,000 from the Whistler Blackcomb Foundation to develop a new exhibit on Whistler’s skiing history and there will be plenty of work going on from now until the start of next winter’s season when we will hold the opening. I will be sure keep you updated on all our events and activities through this column.
For now, we can look forward to the New Year and to the museum carrying on Florence Petersen’s legacy and keeping Whistler’s heritage alive.
Sarah Drewery is the executive director of the Whistler Museum.