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Meet Bowen Island Museum and Archives’ new curator

Bowen Island Museum's new exhibit Bowen Blankets opened April 15 and runs until
Kathryn and Cathy 2
Archivist Cathy Bayly and new curator Kathryn Gaitens are stewards of Bowen’s cultural history at B.I. Museum and Archives.

Could there be a warmer welcome?

For the past few weeks Bowen Island Museum’s new curator Kathryn Gaitens has been wrapped up (figuratively) in Bowen Blankets, the new exhibit that opened April 15 at the museum. 

The exhibit is the final one from outgoing curator Monica Notaro, who has returned to Ontario, and features the Bowen textiles and their histories.

 Gaitens has been finalizing the exhibit since Notaro’s departure. “I love the exhibit, just the idea of the textiles and the quilted pieces,” says Gaitens, fondly pointing out two blankets in particular – from the Foxglove Fibre Arts Guild and from a Bowen Island Community Church fundraiser. “They both show the shared bond that ties the community together,” says Gaitens. “And in this case, represents I think, their ethic of generosity. 

“It’s beautiful on so many levels,” says Gaitens. “Women, or whoever, coming together and doing a shared art piece and …[creating] a usable piece – that blanket.”

The exhibit is in partnership with the Bowen Island Public Library where the Foxglove Fibre Arts quilt, on loan from a community member, will be on display. 

New curator

Gaitens moved to Bowen a couple of years ago with her two daughters, returning to her West Coast roots after living in Toronto and Costa Rica. 

“I grew up on the North Shore and it was always something in my mind, to come back to the West Coast,” says Gaitens. “I had been living in a smaller community, like Bowen, in Costa Rica so it was an easy shift to go from a smaller community to a smaller community.”

Gaitens’ background is in photography, art history and photo editing. In fact, her interest in museums was sparked when photographing for the cover of the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian’s magazine. 

But being a curator of a museum is something new. 

“It is really a new adventure,” says Gaitens. “I’ve always been attracted to museums.

“When travelling, it’s a place that I would always hit up and spend a lot of time.”

“I think there are similarities – [the] stories that we’re able to tell through photos exist with objects and artifacts, I think.”

“It’s [an] honour to have the task of safeguarding Bowen heritage and being able to share Bowen stories,” says Gaitens. 

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