The Exploration Place opening First Nations Gallery

On June 21, The Exploration Place will open a permanent First Nations Gallery to that ages-old history into the context of their other artifacts and historical icons.

"This is the first new permanent gallery at The Exploration Place since our expansion in 2001," said facility CEO Tracy Calogheros.

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"We make use of every square inch in our building and this project will feature a reconfiguration of the George Phillips Gallery and a reclamation of the space that has been unused since the closing of the Prince George Sports Hall of Fame Gallery."

No new space is being built for this purpose. It comes from repurposing existing space.

Spotlighting the millennia-old culture of this area makes the museum more relevant than it has ever been, was the foundational idea, and it also offers public engagement like never before - all of it home grown.

"The visitor will step through a stylized pit house entry as they move into the space. Once inside the gallery the exploration begins," said The Exploration Place curator Alyssa Tobin.

"The new gallery will feature a large case for artifact exhibits, the dugout canoe that Robert Frederick and his team completed last summer, message trees, an interpretation space for a classroom of children and so much more.

Being able to control the lighting levels for the protection of textiles in particular, is a great new feature of this gallery."

The project can go forward thanks to a provincial government grant of $75,000 administrated through the British Columbia Museums Association.

It covered a critical segment of the $195,000 budget to build and animate this new gallery.

With a steadily growing collection of materials both Lheidli T'enneh and more broadly from the Dakelh cultural group, the gallery will be an ongoing, evolving display, Calogheros said.

Tobin added, "We are meeting with (aboriginal) elders to discuss our plans for this project and to finalize the name for the gallery. Currently we are using a working title for the gallery of K'et Hohudul'eh (the Place of Learning)."

The grand opening of the gallery on June 21 is also Aboriginal Day, with a set of celebrations and learning activities slated for Lheidli T'enneh Memorial Park.

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