Nestled in the back, past the Bathtub Race relics and the First Nations art display, lives the Nanaimo Museum’s latest exhibition: Characters, Con Men, and Celebrities. Featuring 30 historic Nanaimo residents in 200 words or less, the exhibit has all sorts, from the prominent, like Mayor Frank Ney, to the lesser-known, like early 1900s brothel madame Millie Clayton. The exhibit, running from February 1 to May 7, hopes to inspire museum-goers to draw their own conclusions.
“It’s about the people that didn’t make it in traditional exhibits,” says Aimee Greenaway, Nanaimo Museum’s Interpretation Curator. “Our subjects are people that didn’t fit into regular research.”
From BC’s first African American school teacher, to a Chinatown entrepreneur, to the infamous Brother XII mistress Madame Zee, the exhibit is one that highlights the overlooked and seeks to let the public decide which categories its subjects fall into, whether it be a character, con man, or celebrity.
The lack of archival matters available for this exhibit had the museum staff create art inspired by some of the biographies in lieu of the traditional picture and biography.
The biggest challenge, says Greenaway, was presenting the facts carefully to let the audience decide for themselves.
“With so many different people from high profile to petty thieves, we had to be careful about presenting the information,” says Greenaway. “We hope to eventually take these biographies and incorporate them into the pre-existing exhibit.”
Museum visitors are encouraged to visit the Nanaimo Museum’s Facebook page to vote on their favourite, or submit their answer in person via the slot box at the museum.
The Nanaimo Museum is hosting a presentation for the exhibit on February 16 and April 2 from 1:30 to 2:15 p.m. Pre-registration is required and costs $5 per person.
For more information, visit nanaimomuseum.ca or call 250-753-1821.