In this June 2007 photo, the B.J. Hales Collection is displayed at Brandon University. The collection, assembled by Brandon naturalist B.J. Hales between the late 1880s and 1932, has been sitting in storage boxes in the basement of Earl Oxford School since 2009.
The historic B.J. Hales Collection may soon be out of its boxes and on display at the Brandon General Museum and Archives.
Brandon School Division has been weighing options on where to display the vast collection of birds and mammals for the past several months. Both BGMA and the International Peace Garden had expressed interest.
This week, the International Peace Garden took its offer off the table.
"They are interested, but at this point they’re not prepared to put in the staff resources or financial support that would be required," board chair Mark Sefton said.
BGMA vice-chairman Kenneth Jackson was pleased to hear the news at Monday night’s board meeting.
"I am glad that the collection looks like it will be, at least for the time being, spending it’s time here in Brandon, where it should be," Jackson said.
The collection has been sitting in storage boxes in the basement of Earl Oxford School since 2009. Previously, the division-owned collection was on display at Brandon University for the better part of 65 years, but was handed back due to space constraints.
Jackson, who was the last curator at BU, is hopeful the items will once again be available for public viewing.
"It’s a great educational resource, that’s one of the strongest attributes for this collection," Jackson said. "In the media we always talk about the things we’ve lost, well this is a really good example of something that we’ve retained, and it just goes to the betterment of our culture, of our society, of our community, and there’s so many different ways that we would like to look at utilizing this collection for the betterment of Brandon."
Part of Jackson’s proposal to temporarily display the exhibition includes moving the materials to the former Convergys building, where they would be unpacked, assessed and catalogued.
The division’s B.J. Hales ad hoc committee will meet with the BGMA board as soon as possible to work out the details on how to move forward.
"This is going to take some time," Sefton said. "We’ve got to make sure we do this right because these are some fairly fragile specimens."
The collection was assembled between the late 1880s and 1932 by Brandon naturalist B.J. Hales. It also includes geological and archeological artifacts.
Most trustees have expressed their support in displaying the collection at the BGMA, sooner rather than later.
"Having those incredibly valuable specimens sitting in boxes in the basement of a school is not what we want to have happen with them," Sefton said. "We want them on display so that people can see them and appreciate them."
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition September 26, 2012