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A new, improved MacBride Museum ready for the tourist season

t’s … almost… done….Tuesday, MacBride Museum of Yukon History employees were tacking up a few remaining exhibits, adding…

t’s … almost… done….

Tuesday, MacBride Museum of Yukon History employees were tacking up a few remaining exhibits, adding the final strokes of paint and generally touching up the place prior to Thursday’s grand opening celebrations.

In addition to opening a new building and exhibition, the museum also revamped its existing collections.

Entering, one is struck by a pleasant “new museum” smell. Then you’ll see a wall chart of Yukon statistics — learning, for example, that caribou outnumber humans five to one in the Yukon.

Take another couple of steps and you’ll come face-to-face with the museum’s famous albino moose.

Then there’s the so-called Cluttertorium, a new exhibit housing “everything the museum didn’t have room for.” 

There, visitors can see bizarre items and knick-knacks haphazardly jammed into a myriad of glass-covered cubbyholes.

Look closely and you’ll spot antique hockey skates, intricate magic-lantern slides and even women’s panties bearing a message imploring their owner to keep them on until her man “comes back from the Yukon.”

Exhibits will also allow visitors to get closer to MacBride’s extensive collections of photographs and First Nation beadwork.

But the jewel in the MacBride crown is the museum’s new 270-square-metre Gold to Government exhibition.

Starting with a display devoted to surveying, visitors journey through the Yukon’s earliest history by moving past antique mining equipment, old Mountie uniforms and even a mock-up of a prospector’s furnished wall tent.

Moving further, visitors find themselves walking the boardwalks of early pioneer Yukon.

At a saloon mock-up one can see a vintage bartop pillaged from a real Klondike roadhouse (transported to Whitehorse at a fee of one bottle of whisky.) The metal bar itself is formerly of Free Pour Joe’s.

At the nearby doctor’s office diorama, be sure to keep an eye out for the antique home-use electroshock therapy machine.

Rounding out the exhibit is an Alaska Highway construction tribute and the establishment of Yukon legislative government.

True to its Gold to Government moniker, the new exhibition sports one of the world’s largest privately held collections of placer gold.

It has already begun to strike a chord with nostalgic museum visitors.

“When you take people through, it’s weird to hear how many people still own a lot of the (type of) antiques we’re displaying in our museum,” said communications director Leighann Chalykoff.

An opening gala reception will take place from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. on Thursday, May 22.

On Friday, May 23, the museum will host a by-donation public exhibition from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.