Couldn’t have gone better
After four years of plans, worries, setbacks, successes and sheer hard work, the Bank of Canada Museum opened its doors—on Canada Day, right on schedule. Whew! Our future began with a ribbon cutting. And no, the deed was not done by the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall. The Bank has its own in-house ribbon cutting team, thank you very much, in the form of Governor Stephen S. Poloz with Senior Deputy Governor Carolyn A. Wilkins. They may not be royalty, but it’s nice that our ribbon cutters are both Canadian VIPs and friends.
Since we were expecting around 2,000 visitors, it was an “all hands on deck” day for the opening event. Nearly the entire Museum staff was there, helping kids at the craft tables, working the door, assisting with the interactives or just strolling around and lending a hand where needed. Fortunately, there was no need to employ another nautical term: “all hands to the pumps.” At no time did our opening day resemble a sinking ship—just a crowded one. In fact, keeping the crowds down to our maximum capacity required a fair amount of management in itself but fortunately we did not require a bouncer. To keep the folks in line happy, our roving entertainer was on the plaza, helping the wait times seem as brief as possible.
In fact, a number of things were happening on the plaza where our rather unmissable welcome tent was set up. From under it (a relief for staff no matter what the weather) we distributed our swag: bookmarks, balloons, hand fans, temporary tattoos and cookies—all very popular. The cookie supply actually lasted a surprising amount of time. (about 20 minutes) To be honest, anything longer than fifteen minutes was surprising and it didn’t matter whether the cookie consumers visited the Museum or not. The cookies were simply clever advertising and a whole lot tastier than a brochure or button.
Even though the Museum has a legal capacity of 400 visitors, there are only so many digital label stations or interactive units. We needed a little supplemental labelling of the human variety for this contingency, so our team of guides got a major verbal workout. For the very curious, two of our curators were on hand to explain the significance and history of the artifacts in greater detail. It’s not every day they get to talk to the public about their subject —and they really like their subject. Fortunately, nobody got our Chief Curator going on Japanese Hansatsu paper money or they’d still be there.
The Museum team was joined by a few members of the Bank’s Currency Department. They were promoting the Canada 150 commemorative bank note and along with an information kiosk, had a table where visitors could get a fresh, new commemorative $10 bill. Of course the staff weren’t giving the notes away—visitors had to exchange their old $10 bills for new ones—but it proved a popular feature anyway.
In all, 2,823 people walked through our doors this Canada Day. That’s a major crowd and they sure seemed to have a good time—especially the kids. I doubt that even half our visitors got a chance to fly the 2 per cent rocket and the digital labels proved a bit too popular for most visitors to get a close-up of their favourite artifact, but that was never the point. The point was for people to wander around, learn what we’re about and want to come back and explore the Museum at their leisure. It was really just a big “Hello” to Canadians and there couldn’t have been a better time than when so many thousands of them were in the neighbourhood and in a mood to celebrate.
And now we’d like to thank you for visiting us. It was our pleasure and we hope to see you again, soon. Just not all at once, please.
Though naturally we are aware that the former Museum space is being gutted, the reality of seeing it empty is still pretty strange for most of us here. In the last blog of this series we showed you the empty cafeteria space that will become the new Museum, as well as some images of the old Museum as it was at the time: stuffed with odds and ends of exhibit cases, the occasional display still on the walls.
With all the blogging we’ve been doing for Voices from the Engraver, you’d think we had nothing else on our exhibition plate. We do, actually, and it’s called CENTimental Journey. This temporary exhibition, hosted at the Canadian Museum of History, walks you through more than 150 years of the Canadian 1 cent piece.
We are coming up on a year since we closed the doors on the physical museum. During that year, we’ve worked very hard to make sure everybody knows that we are still a functioning museum and one that will be opening its doors again in a few years on a beautiful new space, with an expanded mission and mandate.
For you as the steward of your collection, your aim is to preserve the items as best as you can by protecting them from further deterioration. The pros call this preservation.
This exhibition is about engravers, production processes and the beauty of postage stamps and bank notes. In the previous episode of this series we talked about the process surrounding securing the bank notes for this exhibition and how it had to take into account both the needs of the exhibition team and the concerns of the collections department.
So now you’ve decided that collecting currency is far more fascinating than collecting 14th Century Flemish altar paintings and have begun to accumulate some items. Good for you, those paintings are a bother to dust and currency is far easier to take care of.
Collecting things is a very common human urge. Be they matchbooks, pop bottles or 17th century Flemish altar paintings, owning large numbers of the same type of thing is a fascinating pastime for many of us.
During the planning stages stamping the word ‘final’ on any given aspect of a travelling exhibition can seem less of a directive and more of an overly optimistic suggestion.
This month’s selections highlight various areas of Collection development. These include what are called financial instruments: items such as stocks, bonds shares and other articles that represent a contract to deliver money in some manner.
In early February, a small group from the Bank’s Communications Department booked a brief tour of the main floor and first basement at the Wellington Street head office. It’s still in the demolition phase of the renovation.