Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Postscript to "For the Love of History"

Yes, indeed, history was made . . .

Well, this year's race for the Stanley Cup didn't quite turn out the way it was anticipated here in British Columbia. I almost don't even want to mention what happened, but as I wrote about the the thrill of history that was advertised by the 
National Hockey League in my previous post, I thought I should at least acknowledge the riots. I watched what happened live on television, right after the game, and I have to say it was surreal - could this be happening in Vancouver? Really?? To be quite honest, it was heartbreaking, especially after all the international goodwill that was built by the city during the 2010 Olympics.

The actual story - the many layers of stories - of what happened on the streets of Vancouver on the evening of June 15, 2011, will be revealed over the weeks and months to come. And with the stories will come questions that will require study and research through the evidence provided through social media and personal accounts. I imagine there will also be a review of the social factors of what happened: who did this? Why? Did it have anything to do with hockey, or was it somehow just 'human nature' where alcohol + large crowds = dangerous circumstances? So much to think about.

There will also be talk about what happened when the city woke up the next morning: so many people went downtown and cleaned up the mess that was made, swept up the broken glass, began to assess the damage of what was done, and to plan a way to make things right again. There was spontaneous need to state that this was not acceptable, this was not My Vancouver; Vancouverites followed through with this belief in the action of the clean up. There were notes put on police cars, and plywood boards covering broken windows became a place to comment on what had happened in their city.

And know what happened next?

As soon as the glass was replaced and those boards came down, they became artifacts of the time, and they soon found a home in the Museum of Vancouver, at least temporarily. History was made, and the evidence is being preserved and documented by our community museum. And even though it was not the story we expected, it is definitely one worth recording. Maybe especially so.

Truly what I have learned is there's huge societal value when our museums house these objects that say so much. I also know that museums need to demonstrate this responsibility explicitly to our communities because I doubt they are viewed as that essential. Museums have to change this perception, else they will not exist to preserve our stories through objects, whatever those stories - or objects - may be.

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