The goal of CURA was to develop collaborative alliances between
the University of Victoria, its CURA partners, and the arts and
heritage community throughout British Columbia. The five CURA partners,
the University of Victoria, the Royal BC Museum, the Art Gallery
of Greater Victoria, the BC Museums Association, and the Heritage
Society of BC offered their research, teaching and curatorial resources
to assist with community-based projects. The program was designed
to help community organizations research and document local visual
arts collections and heritage property. A primary objective was to
develop an integrated body of knowledge of provincial collections
that would be available to a wide audience.
The CURA program completed its five year mandate in July 2005. This site remains as CURA's archive, as a lasting referral to the community partners, and as a first stop link to resources for the cultural community.
- to extend the research expertise of the University of Victoria
and its CURA partners to regional heritage organizations;
- to encourage innovative research projects;
- to develop integrated and accessible knowledge of public and
- to create a communication network for continuing curatorial
- to contribute to the social and economic development of communities;
- to enrich research, teaching, and curricula at the university;
- to enhance employment opportunities for student participants.
CURA at the University of Victoria
The CURA Program operated out of the History in Art Department
at the University of Victoria. CURA projects were multi-disciplinary
and were supported by faculty from History in Art and other university
departments including Anthropology, History, Geography, English,
Environmental Studies and Education. University students participated
as research assistants for course credit or through student employment
programs. CURA also offered Training and Study Visit Fellowships
for on-campus courses in the Cultural Resource Management Program.
The University's community partners brought added expertise to CURA.
The Royal British Columbia Museum offered support to cultural projects
in conjunction with its Living Landscapes Program in central and
northern B.C. The Museum contributed curatorial assistance for
collections research, project coordination and community programming.
The Art Gallery of Greater Victoria, with its major collections
in Canadian, European and Asian art and its curatorial experience,
offered its resources to curators in community art galleries. The
Heritage Society of B.C. and the B.C. Museums Association supported
the communications network of the CURA program and assisted with program
development and project coordination. The Heritage Society provided
advisory services and training opportunities in the conservation
of heritage resources. The Museums Association offered assistance
for technical services and coordinated a web-building training program.
CURA supported 17 community-driven research projects
selected by jury process from proposals received from museums, galleries
and heritage organizations. The projects were based on a diverse
range of cultural property significant to communities throughout
The CURA projects presented new ways of thinking about local collections
and collaborative approaches to research. The goal of CURA was to
build equal and mutually-beneficial research alliances between CURA
participants and community partners. Each project was managed by
a representative from the community group and a faculty member from
the University of Victoria. Academics applied their research skills
to help meet the concrete needs of community organizations. The
multidisciplinary collaboration of faculty and students from several
university departments, museum professionals and community participants
offered a cross-fertilization of ideas and methods. Student researchers
had the rare opportunity, especially at the undergraduate level,
to work with real collections and primary materials as members of
a project team. Community partners and other community participants
contributed their expertise and local knowledge around the collections
and their context.
Project outcomes included exhibitions, publications, curricula
materials, CD-ROMs and web sites, all of which disseminated
the research results to as wide an audience as possible. By helping
regional heritage institutions document their collections, CURA
provided a more informed and detailed knowledge of the individuals,
diverse ethnic groups and communities that have contributed to the
cultural history of British Columbia.