Elizabeth (left) and Suzanne Haupt on the steps of Revelstoke Museum and Archives. (Submitted)

Elizabeth (left) and Suzanne Haupt on the steps of Revelstoke Museum and Archives. (Submitted)

Seeing double at Revelstoke’s museums

Elizabeth and Susanne Haupt work at the Museum & Archives and Railway Museum

By Cathy English

Curator, Revelstoke Museum and Archives

Two of Revelstoke’s museums have hired interns through Young Canada Works at Building Careers in Heritage, a program funded by the Government of Canada.

Revelstoke Museum and Archives hired Elizabeth Haupt for a six-month internship as Collections Manager. Revelstoke Railway Museum received funding for an internship position for 18 weeks, and they hired Susanne Haupt as an Archives Management Intern. The shared last name is not a coincidence. Elizabeth and Susanne Haupt are identical twin sisters. Born in South Africa, the women came to Canada with their family at the age of 12.

Susanne recalls a family trip to the Museum of Natural History in London, UK, when she and Elizabeth were nine years old.

“Being greeted by a diplodocus skeleton once you walk into the main hall sure does wonders to the little child’s brain. It is a memory we could never let go – the feeling of wonderment when we recall the effect of that visit.”

That and other museum visits created a life-long interest in museums, artifacts, and archives. The sisters both studied at UBC, earning Bachelor Degrees in Anthropology (Museum Studies) with a minor in archaeology.

The Haupts both hope to have careers in the museum and archives field. They would be happy to work with archival or artifact collections in any type of museum, although they are both particularly attracted to natural history museums.

The two both volunteered at the Beaty Biodiversity Museum in Vancouver, donating more than 500 hours each doing programming and other tasks. The Beaty Museum is located on UBC campus, and is Vancouver’s only natural history museum.

READ MORE: Glimpses of Revelstoke’s past for Dec. 31

Their work at the museums in Revelstoke will give them a broad range of skills applicable to the museum and archives world and will increase their chances of getting further work in their chosen field.

Since beginning work at Revelstoke Museum and Archives at the end of September 2020, Elizabeth has been updating the collections database to ensure that records are correct and consistent, and she has been photographing artifacts to add to the database.

The museum has been collecting since 1960, and now holds close to 10,000 artifacts, all having some link to the history of Revelstoke. All of the artifacts are entered into a collections management database, and each one is stored with a location code for easy retrieval.

Previous grants allowed the museum to install rolling shelving units in the storage area, greatly adding to the proper care of the valuable collections. Elizabeth’s work will ensure that the collections data is accurate and up-to-date.

Elizabeth has also been cataloguing archival collections.

The museum recently received a significant donation of archival material from Eileen Delehanty Pearkes, author of A River Captured – The Columbia River Treaty and Catastrophic Change.

The donation included Pearkes’ research material, annotated books and her personal research notes and reflections. This collection is an important addition to the body of material on the Columbia River and the impact of the dams in this region, and it is now catalogued and accessible to researchers.

Susanne is doing similar work at Revelstoke Railway Museum, updating the archival database. She has catalogued trip ticket books, correspondence and other archival documents.

Both museums use the same collections management software, so it made sense to do a joint training session at Revelstoke Museum and Archives on archival policies and procedures.

Elizabeth and Susanne have only ever lived in South Africa and Vancouver, so this winter is their first experience with significant amounts of snow.

They also saw their first black bear in the wild.

Outside of work, the sisters both enjoy video games and Susanne likes to get creative with digital art, while Elizabeth is busy writing fiction.

They are fascinated by thanatology (the study of death) and both enjoy a good ghost story.

Elizabeth said of their internship opportunities in Revelstoke, “Working here allows us to grow both personally and professionally, and allows us to gain further perspectives we may not have gotten elsewhere. It gives us real, tangible and practical wisdom outside of the classroom. A breath of fresh air, after four years of lectures.”

Revelstoke Museum and Archives and Revelstoke Railway Museum are both appreciative of the funding from Young Canada Works that allowed them to hire the Haupt sisters.



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