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Smile Big for the Camera

Okay, so artefacts can’t really smile but they are regularly involved in photo shoots, and with the right photographer these pieces of history can really shine.

One way we preserve our collections is by properly documenting the artefacts through photography.  We can then use these photos for research, exhibits, publications, and to provide a visual in our database.

Taking pictures of artefacts is not easy.  You’d think it would be because the thing doesn’t move around like a human or animal subject, but trust me when I say it’s not.  That’s why I hire a professional to assist when I want high-quality photographs of the HBC Museum Collection.

Rob Barrow is a Winnipeg photographer with extensive experience running photo shoots for artefacts.  Recently I asked him to come in to snap some pictures of artefacts that are currently on display in the HBC Gallery since the cases were being opened for regular cleaning and maintenance.

Although I know artefacts aren’t the only thing Rob photographs, he has a real knack for this.  He gets the lighting just right, knows where to zoom in for some detailed shots, and can even make the most mundane piece shine like a star.  He might even put the artefacts at ease…although I have yet to hear him utter cliche phrases  like “work it, work it” or “you’re a tiger” but maybe he waits until I’m gone to offer such motivation.  As someone who speaks to the artefacts in her collection I am not judging one bit!

Check out these recent photos and see for yourself.


Binoculars that belonged to George Simpson McTavish Jr., Chief Factor for HBC in 1880s.

HBC 39-55 I

Glass bottle from an HBC officer’s cassette (large box to transport food and accessories on trips).

Ceintre Fleeche owned by Jean Baptiste Lagimodiere.

Detailed shot of ceintre fleeche owned by Jean Baptiste Lagimodiere (1778-1855).

Detailed shot of bison in one of Peter Rindisbacher's paintings (ca. 1822-1824).

Detailed shot of bison in one of Peter Rindisbacher’s paintings (ca. 1822-1824).



Dr. Amelia Fay

Curator of HBC Collection

See Full Biography

Amelia Fay joined The Manitoba Museum in September 2013. She received her BA in Anthropology from the University of Manitoba, an MA in Archaeology from Memorial University of Newfoundland (MUN), and recently completed her Doctoral degree from MUN. Amelia’s research has focused on Inuit-European contact along the Labrador coast, and her interests are continually expanding to explore Indigenous-European contact throughout Canada during the fur trade era.

Amelia’s job as Curator of the Hudson’s Bay Company Museum Collection involves building the collection, responding to public inquiries, preparing exhibits, and conducting her own research.  Her research interests centre on the interactions between Europeans (including HBC employees) and Indigenous peoples as they negotiated space, material culture, and their daily activities.  Amelia’s goal is to showcase this amazing collection, and highlight the important role that Indigenous people played in the establishment of the Hudson’s Bay Company.