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Virtual exhibit shows painstaking 'care and attention' by Coquitlam Archives

Coquitlam Archives documents how it preserves donated materials, in a new online show called "From Accession to Access: The Art of Archival Processing."

A recent donation to the Coquitlam Archives has prompted an online exhibit to show the public how much care is put into preserving historical documents.

Emily Lonie said the virtual display, titled From Accession to Access: The Art of Archival Processing, that went up March 30 gives a behind-the-scenes look at how papers and pictures can become fonds, for researchers to use.

The show highlights the recent contribution from ArtsConnect, in which assistant archivist Andréa Tarnawsky spent a year sorting through the papers for them to become public, and documenting the processing steps involved.

“The purpose of the exhibit is to raise awareness of the work that we do at the Archives,” Lonie told the Tri-City News. “We hope that other community organizations will get a sense of the care and attention we devote to records in our holdings and might be prompted to donate their materials to the Archives.”

According to the exhibit, which can be seen at, the ArtsConnect trove of seven linear metres of materials (e.g., papers, posters, photos and videocassettes plus 45MB of digital records’ materials) took three years to organize, as the documents date back to 1964; the regional arts group wrapped up its operations in 2018 as it headed into its 50th anniversary year.

Other recent topics highlighted by Coquitlam Archives staff for quarterly shows include Colony Farm’s Holstein herd, the Westwood racing circuit, Coquitlam Centre and psychiatric nursing at Essondale (formerly Riverview Hospital).

Visit to see the virtual exhibits, or to donate material.