Meet Genevieve Weber!


Genevieve Weber of the Royal BC Museum & Archives

by Ariel Barnes 

In late September I spoke with Genevieve Weber, an archivist at the Royal BC Museum & Archives in Victoria, British Columbia, Canada. She studied History at the University of Victoria and received a Master of Archival Studies with the First Nations Curriculum Concentration from the University of British Columbia in 2008. After completing her Archival Studies degree Genevieve moved to the Nass Valley, where she worked as an archivist in the Nisga’a Lisims Government. Before starting at the Royal BC Museum & Archives she worked in the Museum of Anthropology at the University of British Columbia and the BC Provincial Government. Currently, she works as an archivist focusing on First Nations records and liaison. As part of her job, Genevieve handles outreach for the archives, including managing the archive’s social media accounts.

The Royal BC Museum & Archives serves as a provincial museum and archive, collecting artifacts, documents, and specimens of British Columbia’s natural and human history. As a provincial archive, the BC Archives is the home to the governmental records of British Columbia. The archive provides access to the public as well as researchers and government officials.

The BC Archives and the BC Museum work together to create exhibitions for the museum, with archivists providing archival records for displays. A current exhibition at the Royal BC Museum is called Family: Bonds and Belonging, which explores what it means to be family and how traditions can evolve over time. As part of the exhibition archivists at the Royal BC Museum & Archives offered three workshops on family history and genealogy. Genevieve describes the workshops as successful because some visitors attended multiple sessions. In a larger sense, Genevieve believes that any outreach program that sparks an interest is successful, whether the interest is remote (meaning online) or onsite. A successful outreach program has to be engaging and aware of its audiences. As an archivist focusing outreach Genevieve feels that it is crucial to be aware of the different audiences or groups attending a potential program.  During our conversation, Genevieve stressed that a successful outreach program takes its audience’s interests into consideration and respects the differences found between groups.

On select Thursdays, the Royal BC Museum & Archives opens its doors to patrons over the age of 21 after closing for themed events called happy hours. These Musuem Happy Hours bring collections and visitors together in new and interesting ways. Genevieve is most proud of a recent event called Museum Happy Hour: Pride, which showcased the LGBTQ+ community in the museum and archive.  For the event, Genevieve selected relevant archival records, including a radio feature about drag culture in Vancouver in the 1980s and a copy of a 1970s pamphlet about the gay community in Vancouver written by an anonymous gay man. This program meant so much to Genevieve because it allowed museum and archives visitors to connect and relate to the archival records a way that can be difficult in the traditional archival setting.

During our discussion, Genevieve said outreach is an important aspect of archival work because programs are a way to bring people into the archive and connect with the records. Genevieve believes that without outreach archives would not have an audience for their collection.  Without outreach programs to bring people in the archives the materials will not be in use and history will be lost. To Genevieve archival materials are for use and outreach programs allow for users to interact with archival records in new and interesting ways.

Genevieve’s days are never dull. Her days can vary depending on the work that needs to be completed. Genevieve normally spends one day a week doing reference work. On other days Genevieve works with First Nations records and liaises with researchers. When she is not working directly with researchers, she manages the archives’ Twitter feed. One recent campaign celebrated Women’s History Month in Canada by highlighting some of the interesting collections from women located in the archive. Genevieve mentioned that all month long they were going to be posting information about inspiring women using the hashtag #WomensHistoryMonth. She also spends some time providing group tours, which requires research on Genevieve’s part as she targets the tours to the group’s interests. Over the course of a week she will have worked on many different projects but that is just part of the job for an archivist at the Royal BC Museum & Archives.

You can find out more about the Royal BC Museum & Archives here:

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