Age of Aquarius I ends as museum seeks substitute home for submersible

North Shore News

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If all else fails, this 1973-era submersible may be put up for public auction. The North Vancouver Museum & Archives is looking for a new home for the sub, which was designed to be used at trade shows in the 1970s. file photo North Shore News

It’s almost seven feet in height, six feet in width and is estimated to weigh a thousand pounds.

And it won’t fit through the door of the new North Vancouver Museum. Nor will it fit down its corridors.

Aquarius I, a model submersible that’s been sitting in the museum’s storage for the better part of four decades will not remain a part of its permanent collection, but museum staff are hopeful it will find a new home.

Council authorized the museum to get rid of the unusual artifact at Monday’s council meeting as part of an ongoing process of paring down its official collection. Aquarius I was built in 1973 by North Vancouver-based International Hydrodynamics for use at trade shows. The first director of the museum acquired it in 1979 and the plan was to feature it at the new museum currently under construction.

“It has featured prominently in the early version of our exhibit plan (for the new museum),” said Nancy Kirkpatrick, director of the North Vancouver Museum and Archives. But last December, the new museum’s designers, KEI Space Design, pointed out that it could not be moved within the museum because it didn’t fit down the corridors; in addition, it didn’t fit through the door, so it would have had to have been put in place during construction. It also won’t fit into the new museum storage and must be removed by March when the lease for the museum’s current warehouse storage ends.

“We’ve held onto it to put in our new museum because it’s such a unique artifact,” Kirkpatrick said of the submersible, valued at $1,000.

The North Vancouver Museum and Archives Commission approved the decommissioning of Aquarius I in February.

The model two-person submersible will be offered for transfer to be part of another public collection and the museum will decide which organization fits the criteria.

The last resort would be to put it up for public auction.

Now that council has agreed to the process, the museum is free to see if they can do a transfer. One option is to offer it to the Historical Diving Society – Canada, which is based in
North Vancouver.

“I’d love for it to stay in North Vancouver,” Kirkpatrick said. “It came from here and it’s a significant industry in North Vancouver.”

Construction is currently underway for the new museum and the slab is being poured for the museum level. In about a year, staff will be able to start setting up exhibits. The new museum is scheduled to open in early 2020.

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