Museum manager anticipates a museum “yard sale” will be held on this year’s Canada Day weekend
The term spring cleaning means many things to different people, but to the staff of the Princeton and District Museum and Archives, it means a massive process of deaccessioning.
Deaccessioning means to officially remove an item from the listed holdings of a library, museum, or art gallery, typically in order to sell it to raise funds.
The Princeton museum, nestled in British Columbia’s southern Similkameen region, has never undergone a deaccessioning, and manager Terry Malanchuk says it will be a lengthy endeavour.
“There is a protocol we must adhere to as we are stewards of the collection,” said Malanchuk.
Over the 60 years since the museum’s inception, Malanchuk said they’ve accumulated a vast plethora of historical items, but many of them don’t pertain to the history of Princeton, and now is their time to go.
He said the items are mostly donations and procedure dictates that the person who donated the item may lay first claim to it.
If the original donor doesn’t want the item, it will then be offered to other museums. If there aren’t any interested curators, the item will then be sold to the public.
“Or thrown into the landfill,” said Malanchuk, laughing. “Hopefully we won’t have to do that.”
Malanchuk said a team of volunteers have agreed to meticulously track down former donors — an operation he anticipates will be gruelling.
Items being deaccessioned include those that are from other countries, and those that are falling apart and beyond repair.
‘This is not Cairo’
Malanchuk offered the example of a travelling Egyptian display that made a tour of Canada roughly 20 years ago. Museums that participated in the tour — like Princeton— were able to keep copies of ancient relics.
“This is a Princeton museum, in British Columbia,” said Malanchuk. “This is not Cairo or the British Museum.”
He said the Egyptian relics are just the beginning of a long list of irrelevant items.
Over the years dozens of statuettes and souvenirs have been donated from places as far away as Africa, China and Indonesia.
A deceased relative’s wardrobe has been donated on more than one occasion.
“No one’s ever said no,” said Malanchuk.
“We’ve got no room to move down in archives anymore cause of all this stuff, we’ve got to clean it out.”
Malanchuk said the deaccessioning process will be lots of fun and will take a long time as they do it bit by bit.
He anticipates a museum “yard sale” will be held on this year’s Canada Day weekend, where history buffs will be able to purchase any unclaimed items.