Mennonite Heritage Village

The Future of our Museum

Village News (September 28, 2017)
By Barry Dyck

A year ago, delegates to the annual conference of the Association of Manitoba Museums (AMM) viewed a new film directed by Andy Blicq of 4th Avenue Productions. The End of our Memories laments the loss of community museums and suggests that there will likely be further casualties. The film is well done and well worth watching, but it left many of us with a heavy heart and a sense of discouragement.

At this year’s AMM conference, presenters again reminded us of the challenges museums face, including an abundance of damaging pests and a shortage of cash and volunteers. However, they also presented many creative ideas and opportunities. All good reasons for Manitoba’s museum operators to spend a couple of days together and share stories.

The first presentation at last weekend’s conference was by Colin Ferguson, President and CEO of Travel Manitoba, focusing on various promotional opportunities they offer our industry. Recently they have created a list of “Must-See-Ums” on their website, which provides information about featured Manitoba museums. Mennonite Heritage Village (MHV) is fortunate to be one of the museums highlighted on that list.

Peter Cantelon, from the Canadian Fossil Discovery Centre in Morden, and Joe Brown, from the Miami Museum located just 10 minutes north of Morden, talked about their recent partnership in preparing and promoting a new exhibit. As all good partnerships do, this one benefits both museums. We at MHV are also fortunate to be able to partner with various organizations, such as schools in the Hanover School Division and the Eden Foundation. No doubt additional partnerships will continue to be developed, increasing MHV’s relevance in our community.

Rachel Erikson, Manager of Museum Programs at the Manitoba Museum, provided an overview of various programs they have used to engage different interest groups. Their Table Talk program invites a small group of people to hear a lecture on a specific subject and then discuss it over refreshments. Block-printing workshops at their museum provide a training opportunity for those interested in this craft. A yoga class held in the gallery which displays their dinosaur exhibit offered a unique yoga opportunity. These are just a few of the programs they have offered and found to be successful.

Eric Napier Strong, Curator/Manager of Seven Oaks House Museum in Winnipeg, showed us how they are helping their museum become a meeting place in their community. MHV’s new Summer Pavilion is giving us a variety of new opportunities to provide a gathering place within our own community.

It is evident that MHV and many other museums are struggling to find enough volunteers and dollars to continue our existing services to our communities. And these challenges are not likely to get any easier in the near future. Our task now is to become ever more creative in offering services and programs that will engage people of various demographic groups and continue to increase our relevance in our constituencies. We want to ensure a solid future for MHV in our community.
Calendar of Events
September 28: 7:00 PM – Volunteer Appreciation
September 29 & 30: 9:00 AM – 5:00 PM – Manitoba Culture Days
September 30: Last day of restaurant and outdoor village operations
October 1, MHV galleries, gift shop, meeting rooms, and offices are open Monday through Friday
October 13 & 14: 10:00 AM – 5:00 PM – Threads of Time Quilt Show