Museum Musings

In the next few weeks, we’ll have new and exciting content at the Museum. You may have noticed a few fresh new faces over the summer, that being Martin and myself (Marcel)! 

Martin and I both completed the Masters of Museum Studies program at the University of Toronto, although we graduated a few years apart. Despite being aware of each other’s existence, we had never actually met until now. It’s a small world in the museum industry, and chances are high that professionals in this field will eventually become familiar with your work and who you are. As a great example, Martin and I will soon be attending a conference in Calgary where we will have the chance to interact with numerous museum experts from the province.

I digress. With new faces come new ideas. Martin and I have systematically been reevaluating, rejuvenating and creating new public outreach initiatives, events and programs. Not that the museum hadn’t been striving to add great programming initiatives to its already amazing roster of activities. Jen, our intrepid Director, has cemented (along with previous staff) the museum as an institution within the region. That said, sometimes having fresh ideas can reinvigorate an institution. 

Which brings me to my point. What is a Museum’s goal in a community? Is it education, as a place of heritage preservation or as a means to create cultural enrichment in the area? Absolutely, the museum should strive to do all these things! But, if I may, I’ll add my own idea to this already burgeoning list. 

Social cohesion. Museums have the potential to serve as hubs for community action. More than just buildings that house artifacts, museums play a vital role in bringing together people from diverse backgrounds who may not have had the chance to meet otherwise. Through public outreach, various programs, and community engagement initiatives, museums create unique opportunities for people to connect, discuss, and celebrate their shared heritage and interests.  The Lac La Biche community is a prime example of a welcoming town with a rich diversity of cultures. By tapping into this, museums can go beyond the conventional role of cultural preservation and education. They serve as dynamic spaces that actively promote cultural exchange and understanding among the diverse groups that call this community home. By showcasing the traditions, histories, and artistic expressions of various cultures, museums foster tolerance, appreciation, and respect.

Museums can also facilitate meaningful dialogues on pressing social issues, bridging gaps in understanding and leading to collaborative solutions. The great thing about museums is that they as institutions are not confined to a single discipline; they integrate various subjects, from art and history to science and technology, making them inclusive spaces where people with diverse interests can come together. At the museum, we want to support local artists and cultural practitioners, featuring their work in exhibitions and events. This not only promotes local talent but also brings the community together to celebrate its own creativity and heritage. With the increase in programming, museums are able to engage with young people through educational programs and mentorship opportunities. This in itself accomplishes three important goals, museums provide a sense of purpose and belonging among the youth, making them safe spaces for expression and learning about the community’s history.

Social cohesion is a wonderful byproduct of museums – when done right, can reinvigorate the region, renew interest in heritage, and most importantly; bring the community together.