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History at your fingertips: Prince George’s Exploration Place launches new online collections

‘This is a living database that will serve all of us for many years to come’
Exploration Place Archives
The Exploration Place Museum and Science Centre has launched a new online database.

Local history has just become so much more accessible thanks to the launch of the Exploration Place Museum and Science Centre’s new online database.

Museums across the country have been stepping up with on-line content, programs and exhibits, to both entertain and educate during the pandemic and although its doors are still closed to the public, the Exploration place now has a brand new public interface for its collections and those of its partners.

As many of us are stuck on our couches and in our home offices,  The Exploration Place says interestingly curatorial departments have not seen a drop off in requests but instead those requests are going through the roof.

“For anyone who has used our old database system, you already know just how nice it is to be able to peruse our collection from the comfort of your own couch; this new database will completely up our game with new tech, new interfaces and new partners’ collections available as well” said Tracy Calogheros, CEO of the Exploration Place Museum + Science Centre in a news release.

The museum partnered with Lucidea and through its Argus software implemented a collections management system flexible enough to handle the needs of the Exploration Place as well as seven partners.

The online collections also feature Central BC Railway and Forestry Museum, Huble Homestead, Mackenzie Museum, Valley Museum and Archives, Valemount Museum, Lheidli T’enneh First Nation, and Two Rivers Gallery in a single database.

“The Regional District of Fraser-Fort George has already shown true vision by bringing all of the cultural institutions together for planning, support and programming back in 2006; by adding this fabulous public portal, bringing all of the collections into one spot for the visitor, we are creating a tool that will allow all of us to both tell our stories more fully and give the public a more seamless and robust experience,” added Calogheros.

“We have had significant challenges over the last two decades with keeping our old database up-to-date with the rapidly evolving digital world we all live in,” said Calogheros, explaining “Argus takes the responsibility for updating, keeping abreast of trends in technology and the access behaviours of the general public off of our team and leaves it in the hands of the technical professionals at Lucidea.”

The Government of Canada, through Canadian Heritage, supported the project with a $50,000 grant in 2020, allowing the museum to go forward with this key modernization, despite the costs associated with data handling.

“We are launching today a little bit earlier than perhaps would be ideal, but, given the situation we are all in, we didn’t want to delay giving the public access to our collections, it’s useable as is, with great content already in place.” said Alyssa Leier, Curator for The Exploration Place.

“Both my staff and our partners will be refining the collections you see today over time, adding new data, new images and new records.  This is a living database that will serve all of us for many years to come.”

There are options in the new system that will allow you to email the curatorial team directly from a record, share finds on your social media networks and save your favourite searches. 

“No better time than now to dig through our collective histories; with -30+ temperatures outside, an airborne virus afloat around the world, and streaming services running low on new content, we thought now would be a great time to dig into the archives,” added Calogheros.