A new exhibition titled “Public Participation: An Archival Display,” curated by MLIS student Doyle Lahey, has opened on the atrium floor of the Kenneth Rowe Management Building. The exhibition displays six items (three objects and three paper-based) and is unique as viewers are encouraged to fill out a survey to choose which item they would preserve in an archive to represent Dalhousie in the future. The following is an excerpt from the exhibition panel:
While professional archivists and curators normally govern the verdict of what to preserve and discard, a push has been issued to include the public in the appraisal process. And why not? Paper-based records, such as a letters, diaries, and newspapers – along with physical objects – are kept for public use because they hold particular significance and are considered culturally valuable. Shouldn’t the public be included in evaluating what our society regards as having meaning? Attempts to include the opinions of the public have been endorsed by archive, museum, and art gallery staff, but few have actively reached beyond their own institutions’ walls due to various constraints and competing ideologies.
However, the decision to choose what to keep and what to dispose of is now up to you. As a member of the Dalhousie community you have many different ways of representing the university, whether by wearing a t-shirt, carrying a travel mug, or driving a car with a Dalhousie license plate. Additionally, there are numerous documents (both visual and textual) that contain information pertaining to activities held at Dalhousie, including photographs, newspapers, and books. The object and paper-based material you select by filling out the survey is what YOU would have preserved in a repository to represent Dalhousie in the future.
The exhibition is a part of a Directed Reading Course, co-supervised by Dr. Bertrum MacDonald and Peter Dykhuis. The exhibition will be open from March 30th to April 13th.