Living for history
Taking the past into the future

Andrea Cnudde
Northern News Services

IQALUIT (July 19/99) - "I basically do everything here," Brian Lunger with a laughs -- and you can tell he loves it.

As the new manager/curator of Iqaluit's Nunatta Sunakkutaangit Museum, Lunger is very much at home as he wanders among the collection, pointing out interesting pieces and artifacts.

"This is one of my favourites," he says, leaning over a collection of miniatures known as the Mary Morrison Davis Collection. "Just look at that detail. It's fascinating."

When he says he does everything, he means it. The curator position is only half-time, but he's hoping it will become full time soon. Between cleaning the museum, cataloguing artifacts and giving tours and lectures, Lunger is kept very busy.

With a degree in cultural anthropology from the University of Victoria and several years as a volunteer at the Royal British Columbia Museum, Lunger views his position here as an opportunity to further his knowledge.

"Nothing compares to this kind of learning," he says, referring to what he has gained since taking on the role of curator.

He also credits long-time museum employee Jimmy Ekho with much of this new-found knowledge.

"Jimmy really knows the collection," he says, "He's been my main education".

As curator, Lunger is also engaged in acquiring new exhibits and pieces for the museum. Of particular interest to Lunger is an exhibit coming to the museum sometime in August. Based on photographs taken in the 1920s from around the Baffin region, the exhibit will be an ongoing oral history and genealogy project.

"It's an identification project," Lunger says. "We're hoping people will come in and see a picture and say, 'Hey, that's my grandfather!' or 'I know where this is!'"

Many of the photos are from Pond Inlet and the Iqaluit area, referred to in the pictures as "Frobisher's Land."

The pictures will be on indefinite loan from the Peary-MacMillan Arctic Museum in Brunswick, Maine.

Lunger considers his main challenge at the museum is developing more community interaction and participation.

"It seems like a tourist thing right now," the curator says. "A lot of locals only come to the museum when they have out-of-town visitors."

He is, however, confident this oral history and genealogy project will help draw more people from the community. Lunger strongly feels the need to share what the museum has to offer.

"People have to realize that this is theirs; it's their history."