Mennonite Heritage Village

A Bucket for Every Leak

Village News (March 28, 2019)

By Andrea Dyck (Senior Curator)


A Bucket for Every Leak

When we talk about the work of Mennonite Heritage Village (MHV) in public, we often focus on the good: new acquisitions in our artefact collection, upcoming exhibits, exciting Festival Days, new programs for visitors and students alike, and how the museum functions as a community meeting place to bring people together.  This week’s column, however, is not about the good things happening at MHV.  It’s about the fact that the roof on the Village Centre is leaking and is in serious need of replacement.  This project is urgent and carries a price tag of over $100,000.

The roof is original to the Village Centre, which was opened in 1990, under much fanfare and after a large capital campaign designed not only to expand MHV’s facilities, but also to allow it to grow and to operate as a professional museum. The roof on the Village Centre is now thirty years old.  It has been repaired many times over recent years but it has reached the end of its lifespan.

Given its age, we have come to expect some leaks each spring, but we have never experienced it quite like we have this year.  During the worst of the spring melt, Assistant Curator, Jenna Klassen, and I have been placing buckets under new leaks every day.  Other staff have also been involved in being watchful for new leaks, but these roof leaks are of particular concern for the curatorial department because they are occurring in the places that one least wants a roof to leak in a museum: in our galleries and in our artefact vault. These leaks are putting the collection and our exhibits in a very vulnerable position and we are doing our best to ensure the protection of the collection: we monitor the galleries and collections storage room multiple times a day; we log and monitor every leak and all the environmental conditions in rooms that house any part of the collection; we clean up water and puddles as they form; we find buckets for the active leaks; and we are in the process of covering every shelf in our large artefact storage room with plastic sheeting to protect the top shelves, which are the most at risk.

MHV’s mission is to “preserve and exhibit, for present and future generations, the experience and story of the Russian Mennonites and their contributions to Manitoba.” We seek to fulfill this mission in a variety of ways, but all of our work has its foundation in the fact that we are a museum and that we hold a collection of 16,500 artefacts in trust for our community. The artefact collection is what ensures that we can continue to fulfill our mission and share this history with future generations.

As the title of this column suggests, so far we have managed to find a bucket for every leak.  So far, while some artefacts in the collections room have gotten wet, the vast majority of the collection and the exhibits have not been damaged. Speaking both figuratively and literally, however, eventually we will run out of buckets to catch all those leaks. A bucket does not solve the problem of a roof that needs replacing.

So that’s the bad news – now for the good: there are many ways you can help MHV fulfill its mission by helping to get a solid roof over the Village Centre.  Consider making a donation, over and above what you might usually give or offering matching funds to donations received for the roof project. You can also consider hosting and sponsoring a table for our upcoming fundraising dinner, which will be held on May 25.  The dinner will coincide with the opening of our new exhibit, The Russländer, and will include special programming commemorating the historic migration of Mennonites from the Soviet Union to Canada in the 1920s.  All the funds raised that evening will go toward a new roof for the Village Centre. Help us ensure that the next generation has the opportunity we have enjoyed to pass these stories on to the future.

Calendar of Events

April 2, MHV All General Meeting – 7:30 PM, Open to the Public

April 19, MHV closed for Good Friday

April 23, Volunteer Orientation – 7:30 PM (Auditorium)

May 1, Village Grounds and Livery Barn Restaurant open for the season

May 11, Manitoba Day celebrations

May 25, Fundraising Dinner for Village Centre Roof