Museums and the Construction of Community Identity: Case Study of the Britannia Heritage Shipyards, National Historic Site of Canada

By Kimberly Baker.

Published by The International Journal of the Inclusive Museum

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Published online: May 2, 2014 $US5.00

Engaging with the concept of democratizing history and the museum space brings new challenges to the museum sector, which prompts museum professionals to question their identity, role, and social worth within the community. This paper examines how the City of Richmond staff and volunteers collaborate to preserve and restore the Britannia Shipyards, National Historic Site of Canada as an active wooden boat center. This site is situated on 3.14 hectares (8.14 acres) of land located along the Fraser River. In 1900, this site was one of 15 canneries on Steveston's Cannery Row, and became Britannia Shipyard in 1918. Today, it is an authentic representation of a once thriving community of canneries, boat yards, residences and stores. There are 14 buildings that tell many stories of the residents and workers at the Britannia Cannery and Britannia Shipyard: First Nations, Japanese, Chinese and European. This is accomplished by an ongoing process of community engagement and collaboration that accesses social capital by bringing new voices, new histories and new people to the site. The author identifies possibilities and limitations of socially conscious museum methodology, ethical and theoretical issues concerning community engagement and collaborations in the preservation and restoration of this historic site.

Keywords: Museums and Community

The International Journal of the Inclusive Museum, Volume 6, Issue 3, May 2014, pp.27-55. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Published online: May 2, 2014 (Article: Electronic (PDF File; 4.643MB)).

Kimberly Baker

Arts, Heritage & Culture Educator, Delta, British Columbia, Canada


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