Written by Pamela Roberts
Starting a New Job During COVID-19
Starting a new job is always a little daunting. So when I joined the VPMA as the new Executive Director earlier this year, I was naturally somewhat nervous, but also hopeful. The world was just starting to open up again, and after a turbulent time for cultural organizations, visitors were beginning to return. It was an exciting time to join the museum as it reopened and looked to the future.
Executive Director Pamela Roberts pictured in the VPMA's Autopsy Suite
Of course, more has changed in the cultural sector than just health protocols. During the years of the pandemic, there were significant shifts in the cultural and political mood of audiences. With movements like #BlackLivesMatter, decolonization, and a renewed commitment to reconciliation, cultural organizations have had to rethink their mission, values, and role in society. Museums have never been more relevant, and yet more problematic, in the way they represent ‘history.’ This makes it a really exciting and positive time to be working in museums, if a bit challenging. For our staff, that challenge is enhanced by the very nature of the museum.
The Vancouver Police Museum is an independent museum that was originally built to
celebrate the centennial anniversary of the Vancouver Police Department in 1986. However, the heritage building holds many other histories, stories, and secrets to intrigue staff and visitors alike. In fact, the building is really what attracted me to the job.
The museum was Vancouver’s Coroners Court, City Analyst’s Lab, and Coroner’s Services. The court, autopsy suite, and morgue are all open to the public, but hidden below the museum is the former City Analyst’s Lab, still intact with abandoned chemicals, forensic equipment, and criminal evidence. As a result, the museum’s exhibits range from gang activity to famous murder cases, forensics, and sex work.
I am looking forward to developing the exhibits further and sharing more of the hidden stories with our visitors. We are a small team of staff, but we are committed to change and to ensuring the museum is welcoming and engaging to a wide range of audiences.
View of the museum entrance featuring the original "Coroner's Court" sign
Culture Changes & Annual Survey
We need your help! We want to ensure that the museum presents a balanced historical and cultural perspective, and is a welcoming environment for a wide range of audiences.
Even if you’ve never visited, we’d love to know what you think! If you choose to leave your name and email address, you will be sent a voucher code for a 2 for 1 visit to the museum. You will also be entered into a prize draw to win a gift voucher ($100 value) for a meal at The Alibi Room, our local restaurant and craft beer specialist. The survey should take approximately 5 minutes.