As part of the Dawson City Museum Project, I conducted fifteen interviews with people associated with the institution historically and today. Most of the transcripts have been approved. So, my Research Assistant and I are analyzing them now. The Interview Analysis series considers this analysis and the insights people have provided.
Within this post, I am continuing to engage with the curator interview and the question – What is the Dawson City Museum’s role? Notable, the Museum was founded as part of an effort to encourage tourism and its static exhibitions primarily appealed to tourist (As discussed in Tourism Role). The new exhibitions, which opened in 2021, reflect a desire to be more responsive to and reflective of their community, becoming a community resource beyond tourism.
As discussed elsewhere, the Dawson City Museum is a tourism attraction. For example, in an interview, the curator stated:
Importantly, the Museum is undergoing change. A current objective is for the Museum to be more reflective of the community’s diverse needs.
The new exhibitions, which opened in 2021, reflect this desire to become a community museum for the community, reflecting the community and responding to its needs. To that end, the Klondike Gold Rush is not as centered in story telling as it once was. The curator explained:
Rather than focusing on the Gold Rush, the new exhibitions center the people of the Klondike, telling a story of survival and prosperity through adaptation and change:
Further, in their daily work, museum staff are focused on building relationships within the community in order to:
In short, the Museum staff is working to be seen as a community resource in addition to being a tourists destination. Importantly, the Museum has played a variety of roles within its community over time. As such, subsequent interview analysis posts will explore other roles the museum has had, which reflect both community need and government policies that have changed over time.
I always struggle with this question – When museums say their role is as a community resource, what does that mean in practice?