When Is A Box More Than A Box? When It’s A Museum!

The Lac La Biche Museum has been closed for a while now, but we’re still committed to sharing and exploring the region’s history. Currently students can’t come to the museum. So we’re bringing the museum to the students.

The museum has just finished developing our first Museum in a Box. It is, as the name suggests, a box filled with artifacts, photos, maps, and information sheets. With this Box, teachers can recreate a little bit of the museum experience in the classroom.

Plastic container with Museum in a Box label on the lid

It was easy to pick a topic for our first box. We already had feedback from teachers that they were interested in the fur trade and that’s a subject that our collection can support. We even had a previously developed Box focusing on the fur trade, which gave us a leg up in planning.

One of the first things we had to figure out was how the Box would work. What makes a museum special and different is the objects, so one of our top priorities when developing the Box was to get as many things into it as we could. This is especially important right now, since the museum is closed to visitors and so we can’t work with students in person. Our new Museum in a Box features more original artifacts than have ever been offered before.

A miniature model of a birchbark canoe

Of course, in the era of Covid, there were extra complications to creating a Museum in a Box. Although we wanted learners to be able to interact with the objects, we definitely didn’t want them to be a vector to transfer disease! The solution we came up with was to place every item, except for a few plastic replicas that can be sanitized, in protective bags or cases. These coverings can be wiped down between people or between classes, so items can be shared relatively safely.

A clear container holding several blue and white trade beads

In some ways, these coverings actually worked to our advantage, since we could loan out more delicate items than we had in previous Boxes. The oils in your fingers can be very damaging to a lot of materials, which is why museums tend to be strict on the no touching rule. Keeping everything in containers meant we could loan out things like metals without worrying about the state they’d come back in.

Although it took a lot of work, we’re proud to say that our first loan of the Museum in a Box went out this week. We’ve included a feedback form and we’re eager to hear what teachers think so we can make the next Box even better. Here at the museum, we believe that there’s always room to learn more. And that applies to us, too!