History for sale: museum turns to Kijiji to purge collection

The Canada Science and Technology Museum has turned to online buy and sell site Kijiji to unload unwanted artifacts before its collection is moved to a new storage facility.

Snowshoes, ship's wheel among unusual items posted for sale online by Canada Science and Technology Museum

The bench, once part of the Canada Museum of Science and Technology's rail exhibit, was put up for sale on Kijiji for an asking price of $4,000. The museum has decided to give the bench to the Senate for free. (Canada Science and Technology Museum)

Sure, you've searched Kijiji for used skates, the odd piece of furniture, maybe even a camper.

But what about a 1.5-metre ship's wheel, or a huge wooden bench that once sat in Ottawa's old train station?

They're both available on the popular website, for sale by the Canada Museum of Science and Technology.

The museum's director of conservation and collection services, Gordon Perrault, said the unusual listings are part of the museum's effort to refresh its massive collection, most of which is about to be moved into a new storage facility next door.

The large, double-backed benches in the museum's collection once sat in Ottawa's former downtown train station. (Kijiji)

Before they're put up for sale, the artifacts must first be made available to other museums and facilities. The pieces on Kijiji, as interesting as they are, are not considered historically significant, Perrault said.  

"We have strict directives and policies regarding our collection rationalization process where we look at our collection and try to get the best available collection for Canadians to visit."

Nevertheless, Perrault understands the emotional attachment people might have to the items.

"Some people might recognize these things. It might be a childhood memory. They say, 'I remember these benches,'" he said. "They were massive. And then to grow up and see them inside the museum, it's pretty impressive."

The museum actually owns eight more benches from the train station, which it's planning to keep, Perrault said. The one that's for sale was damaged and covered in graffiti when it was first acquired, and was later used as a "prop" in the museum's rail exhibit.
This vintage printing press was also for sale. Price negotiable, pickup only. (Canada Science and Technology Museum)

Prices negotiable, no delivery

If the museum doesn't find a buyer on Kijiji, the bench will go to auction in March, Perrault said.
This ship's wheel was listed for $8,000 on Kijiji. (Canada Science and Technology Museum)

There are other, smaller items for sale including vintage snowshoes, a lacrosse stick, a printing press and a collection of old records.

The museum actually began unloading unwanted items in the 1990s.

"[We need to] get rid of the pieces that don't belong in the collection, the pieces that aren't significant, that aren't important, so we can minimize our footprint when we move the collection over to our new facility," said Perrault.

The storage facility is expected to be completed by the spring of 2019.