As some readers of this blog already know, my first big break after graduate school came when I moved to Tulsa, Oklahoma for doctoral research and, at the same time, began a relationship working with, and then for, the Gilcrease Museum, a remarkable municipal museum of American anthropology, history and art. My experiences at the Gilcrease were fantastic and I learned, while working there, a tremendous amount about being a curator. Along with great people, a key aspect of this period was getting to know the museum’s fantastic collections. Among the most dramatic and interesting works in the Gilcrease collections is a document known as the “Codex Canadiensis,” a collection of annotated images of flora, fauna and peoples of the New World made by Louis Nicolas’ around 1700.

Library and Archives Canada, in partnership with the Gilcrease Museum and the Gail and Stephen A. Jarislowsky Institute for Studies in Canadian Art, has built an online edition of the Codex. The site is both an online exhibition interpreting the document and a digital edition providing access to the entire work. In conversation and on this blog, I have regularly celebrated the scope and effectiveness of the Virtual Museum of Canada. This project, from a different Canadian online heritage program, again reveals how effective and advanced Canadian efforts in this sector are. For students of North American ethnohistory, having the entire Codex Canadiensis online is a wonderful resource. My late colleague, Gilcrease’s curator of archival collections Sarah Erwin, was central to this project and it is a fitting tribute to her career-long efforts to make the Gilcrease Collections more useful to scholars and the general public.

Recommended Posts