A familiar face will be at the helm of the Whistler Museum as the search continues for the cultural facility’s new home.
Former collections manager Bradley Nichols was officially named as the museum’s new executive director last week, a position he filled on an interim basis after Sarah Drewery left the job in February.
A graduate of Memorial University’s heritage resources program, Nichols has been at the museum since 2011, when he came onboard as a summer intern. In his three years as collections manager, he oversaw the digitization of the facility’s entire catalogue of artifacts, as well as the archives of counter-cultural publication, The Whistler Answer.
Now, Nichols has his eye set on an even bigger task: finding a permanent home for the museum, which is currently housed in several cramped and aging portables behind the library.
“We’re in probably some of the oldest buildings in Whistler now,” Nichols said. “With archives and artifacts, you’re supposed to regulate the temperature and humidity and we’re trying our best to do that, but there are definitely issues with the building for trying to preserve Whistler’s history. Being able to display and tell those stories in a more substantial way would be beneficial to the community, I believe.”
The museum has spent $20,000 in grant funding to commission architect Crosland Doak to assess the viability of several potential future locations. Nichols did not have a timetable for the report’s completion.
There has also been talk of including the museum in the municipality’s planned Cultural Connector, which is intended to link the village’s various cultural facilities — including the highly anticipated Audain Art Museum, which is planned to open in the fall.
“I think (the Audain museum is) a wonderful opportunity and I think it’ll expand that sector of tourism that comes to Whistler,” said Nichols. “It just adds another aspect to the mosaic of Whistler.”
On the programming side, Nichols said a priority for him will be to “expand community involvement” with the museum by offering unique and engaging events, like a new nature interpretation program this summer at Lost Lake.
“A program like that that gets more people involved, not just learning about history but also the natural history of Whistler,” he added.
Taking Nichols’ place as collections manager is another former summer intern, Alyssa Brujins, who recently completed her master’s in library science at McGill University. In her new role, she hopes to unveil the large collection of visual media the community has yet to lay eyes on — from old photographs and home recordings to footage from the resort’s defunct community cable station, Whistler Cable 6.
“We have a huge collection and only the tip of it has ever been shared with the public,” she said.
For more information, visit www.whistlermuseum.org.