A Day in the Life at the Whyte Museum Archives

What do you picture when you think of an archive?

Dusty shelves and old books?

A dark, cool basement that’s impossible to find?

A librarian with thick glasses and a stern, silencing stare?

These may be accurate descriptions of some archives, but not at the Whyte Museum.

Allow us to share with you a Day in the Life at the Whyte Museum Archives & Library…

The Reference Archivist opens the doors to the Archives. A historical film is playing on the television by the door to entice visitors inside. Natural light streams into the front area where reproductions of photographs from the collection hang on the wall. Mount Rundle is visible through the large windows.
Keen researchers arrive, prepared with their lists of materials that they are eager to examine. Visitors peak around the doorway, curious to see what this secluded room may contain.

The Reference Archivist heads for the double doors that lead into the Archives & Library's storage rooms. The door opens and the researchers and visitors get a brief glimpse of floor to ceiling books on clean metal shelving units. The door closes and the Reference Archivist stands alone amongst the shelves. Manuscript boxes, books, geographical maps, VHS tapes, audio recordings and a plethora of other materials are all contained on those shelves, but this is only a small taste of what is stored in the vaults below.
A glance at the pink slip of paper tells the Reference Archivist that this researcher is looking for a family photo album and some letters that once belonged to a resident of Banff. After retrieving a few boxes for the researcher the Reference Archivist returns to the desk to respond to inquiries that have come via email. 

Over the next two hours the Reference Archivist passes back and forth through the double doors that lead to the vaults, retrieving boxes, video cassettes, and large folders of maps. Visitors share stories about their great-grandparents' adventures in the Rockies, as they search for any trace of them: a photo, a summit note, even a signature in a guestbook.

The Whyte Museum Archives & Library is a place where old stories are discovered and new stories are told and shared. It is rare to walk into the Archives and not stumble upon a group of strangers excitedly discussing a letter, a map, or a photograph. 

Come visit the Whyte Museum Archives & Library for yourself, discover Banff's history, and join our community. 

The Whyte Museum Library and Archives are Open Tuesdays to Fridays, from 1 PM to 5 PM. 

Please call 403-762-2291 ext. 335 to make an appointment.


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