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Grant will allow Maritime Museum to digitize maps, ships' plans

Federal $17,000 heritage grant will allow the museum to buy a large-format scanner, so items can be digitized and made available to the public
Maritime Museum of B.C. collections and exhibits manager Heather Feeney with a model of Vice-Admiral Horatio Nelson's ship HMS Victory at the museum's collections site on Seymour Place in Victoria. DARREN STONE, TIMES COLONIST

The Maritime Museum of B.C. says a $17,000 federal grant will allow it to purchase a special scanner so materials like ships’ plans can be digitized.

“We have a large collection of ships’ plans and charts in our collection, most of which are not currently digitized,” said Heather Feeney, the museum’s collections and exhibits manager.

Ships’ plans are some of the museum’s most frequently requested items, Feeney said, and a large-format scanner will allow the museum to digitize the material so it’s available to the public through the research request program.

“We anticipate the new scanner will be a major benefit for the public as we can more effectively and efficiently process requests for these items.”

The grant is from Canadian Heritage’s Museum Assistance Program.

The Maritime Museum of B.C. has approximately 35,000 ships’ plans and more than 2,000 maps and charts, as well as a 40,000-object collection, a library and archives.

Museum board president Jamie Webb said the scanner can be used for any large document, including blueprints and newspapers, or artwork. The items are used by a range of people, including historians and model makers, with research requests coming from around the world, Webb said.

Scanned and digitized documents can be emailed to clients or they can be printed, he said, with a nominal fee for the service. The cost is $50 to $100 for scanning and printing a large item.

The museum is gradually getting more of its collection visible online, with thousands of items already posted, Webb said.

You can see the items at

The original material will continue to be kept in storage.

The grant follows news last week of a $1-million gift to the museum from the estate of Cora Shaw that will be used as an endowment to support expansion plans.

Webb said that Shaw, who served on the executive of the University Women’s Club of Victoria and was a member of the UVic Retirees Association, believed in the importance of maritime history, as well as the arts and culture sector.

The museum is within the footprint of the Victoria Conference Centre but has a joint proposal with the Bateman Centre — at the Inner Harbour’s CPR Steamship Terminal building — to switch places. The move would give the museum a home on the water, something it has wanted for some time.

The museum is a charitable non-profit organization that is operated largely through government grants and private donations.

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