Saturday, June 19, 2010

Banff Park Museum

I was recently lucky enough to spend a weekend in Banff, and while I was there I visited the Banff Park Museum, a national historic site operated by Parks Canada. Its reason for designation, according to its Statement of Significance, is because it reflects an early approach to interpretation of natural history in museums, as well as its architecture.

The front facade of the Banff Park Museum.

The rear facade of the Banff Park Museum. This photo was taken from an adjacent park, which from 1904-1937 housed a small zoo. The closure of the zoo was a reflection of a change in parks management approach from the presentation of captive animals to their preservation in the wild.

An illustration of the former zoo.

This detail of a post is an example of the ornate Douglas Fir interior that contributes to the building’s historical significance.

Built without electricity, the lantern style design of the building maximized the light levels inside. The fenestration remains, but there are now UV filters on the windows to protect the collections on display.

This exhibit is in the centre of the building, and has not been altered since the early 20th century.

A veiw of the museum from the second floor.

I found the Banff Park Museum really interesting. For less than four dollars visitors can wander through a museum of a museum, which for me is a really neat idea. Unfortunately, after eavesdropping on many of the visitors there with me, few people bothered to read the interpretation, and therefore the museological significance of the site is lost on most people.

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