By Alexandra Kroeger, Assistant Curator
It's gearing up to be another busy spring at Mennonite Heritage Village (MHV). Despite this week’s snow, we are just about ready for the May 1 opening of our village for another season. Besides getting our outdoor village ready, we are hard at work preparing one of this summer's gallery exhibits, Storied Places, which will open on July 1. Storied Places uses artefacts to explore the stories Mennonites tell about themselves and about what it means to call Manitoba “home.” Stories about “place” shape who we are as people, and this exhibit encourages our visitors to think about the stories that have shaped them.
For the last couple of years, we have been working to involve local schools and institutions in designing and producing our exhibits. This year we welcomed the new Advanced Photography class from Landmark Collegiate to participate in our Storied Places theme. The Advanced Photography teacher, Todd Peters, explained that he was looking for opportunities to apply his students' learning outside of the classroom. We were all too happy to partner with them so that the students could exhibit their theme-inspired photographs beyond their school setting.
Curator Andrea Dyck and I went to Landmark Collegiate in the fall and spoke about the concept behind Storied Places. We talked about how Mennonites made Manitoba "home" when they first migrated here in the 1870s, and we told some stories connected to our own favourite places. We then asked the Advanced Photography students to think about places that were special in their personal lives. This pondering inspired the photo essays they created to exhibit at MHV, which was their final assignment for the class.
Teacher Todd Peters and I installed the exhibit over spring break, and Andrea and I were excited to see how well the students' assignments had turned out. Each student in the class had taken photos of places that were important to them, and then explained why by telling the stories behind them. For example, some students wrote about their childhood home, their grandparents' house, or their family's cottage. One student based his assignment on his dad's workshop. Another focused her assignment on the field outside her house; where we might see an empty space, she sees a place full of memories. The students appreciated the opportunity to create and display their own exhibit as well. One student says, "Not only did I get to explore themes in photography, in this case ”places,” but through this, my work can be displayed in a public place for others to see."
We are also currently partnering with Paul Reimer's Advanced Photography class at SRSS to create their own photo essays to go with our Storied Places theme. Their exhibit doesn't go up until later this spring, but in the meantime you can still view their exhibit from last year, Beyond Tradition: The Lives of Women We Know, on the west side of our auditorium.
Landmark Collegiate's Storied Places will be on display in the east-side cases of the MHV Auditorium through our summer season.
Calendar of Events
April 27: 7:00 PM – Volunteer Orientation
May 1: 9:00 AM – Outdoor village opens for the season
May 1: 11:00 AM – Livery Barn Restaurant opens for the season
May 6: 7:30 PM - Local History Lectures – Family, Food and Spirituality
May 12: 9:00 AM – 5:00 PM - Manitoba Day
PHOTO: VN Mikayla P
CAPTION: Mikayla's photo essay for Storied Places, on display in MHV's auditorium. She took photographs around her yard and explained why each place was important to her by telling the stories behind them.