Digitizing the museum

The Walker Press building at 3 Yeo Street, Paris

The mural painted on the south wall of the Walker Press building on Willow Street symbolizes much of what has been going on at the Paris Museum, not just during the pandemic, but over the past few years.

The stated mission of the Paris Museum and Historical Society is “…to collect, preserve and make accessible the rich cultural heritage of Paris and surrounding area…” Many people may not realize that the Paris Museum is also an archive, housing a deep collection of documents and images going back over 100 years. Our research team has been working remotely through the pandemic fulfilling online research requests. This has been made possible through the museum’s continuing preservation projects.

Years ago, when it became apparent that many of the museum’s oldest paper documents were deteriorating, a microfilm/microfiche project was undertaken. As that technology approached obsolescence, a massive conversion project was carried out to digitize the microfilm/microfiche collection. The museum’s collection of artifacts is systematically catalogued in a searchable database. Photographs are scanned and stored on servers. A current project involves the high-definition computer scanning of over 10,000 photographic negatives. All of these digital files are further safeguarded using cloud backups.

Having the information in the museum’s collection digitized has made it possible to supply research results to people thousands of kilometres away — people who could never visit the museum in person. It has also made it possible for the museum to keep functioning and fulfilling its stated mission, even while the physical museum has been closed to visitors and researchers for much of the past year.

Rick O’Brien