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Museum in Carstairs plans update to North Gallery

“The board and staff recognize that it is time to re-fresh and upgrade this area of the museum,” a recent Carstairs Heritage Centre report states
MVT knox presbyterian
The 120-year-old Knox Presbyterian church building at the Carstairs Heritage Centre was designated a municipal historic resource in 2021, just one of the centre's accomplishments last year. File photo/MVP Staff

CARSTAIRS - Town council has been given an update on recent activities and future plans at the Carstairs Heritage Centre museum complex, including plans to update the popular North Gallery.

The review came during the recent, regularly-scheduled council meeting, with a delegation made up of president Ruth Roedler, treasurer Bob Peel and curator/manager John Cole appearing before council and presenting a written report.

The centre is operated by the Carstairs & District Historical Society, a non-profit, registered society. The centre includes historic buildings and displays of artifacts from the town and district.

Current facilities at the centre including the Roulston Hall, Knox Church, Ing Gallery, Pointen Gallery and North Gallery, three carriage houses, and the McCaig House pioneer homestead.

The society is supported by membership, the Town of Carstairs, Mountain View County and Alberta Museums Association. Additional funds are provided through grants, individual, corporate and private donations, as well as fundraising events.

“The society and museum has enjoyed steady expansion over the years primarily due to the dedication of countless volunteers and the support of the community,” the report states.

The centre’s five-year comprehensive institutional plan, which was reviewed for council, outlines strategic objectives and operations goals.

The plan outlines 2022 objectives and priorities. One of the main goals this year will be a major update of the North Gallery.

“The board and staff recognize that it is time to re-fresh and upgrade this area of the museum,” the report states. “It will require a detailed planning and a concerted effort in collections management.

“This process will include moving items to storage and evaluating items for possible de-accessioning. Additionally, work  will include inventory and possible removal of ‘props’ that are currently on display and are not a part of the museum’s artifact collection.”

The new year will also see an increase in the museum’s digital activities, council heard.

“A new podcast will bring the Reminisce series back to life and to a newer, larger audience. It will also begin substantive work on a Carstairs oral history project. The idea is to capture the voices and stories of Carstairs for use now in the podcast, and for historical record keep in the museum’s archives.”

Current programming at the centre includes Sheep to Sweater, Cream of the Crop, Young Curators, Johnny Chinook, Worth 1000 Words, and the Home Front programs.

Outreach programs include Antiques in the Attic, Carstairs 1883-1903, Good News, Bad News and No News.

Popular annual activities and events include Carstairs Heritage Festival in June, Beef & Barley Days in July, Alberta Culture Days in September, Old Fashioned Christmas in December, and Pioneer Supper & Pie Auction in February.

Activities in 2021 included visitor information centre re-accreditation, COVID-19 safety upgrades, ‘Tea Garden’ grown at McCaig House, museum website completed and regularly updated, hosted a no-dinner fundraiser, installed lighting outside the buildings, purchased a 3-D printer in conjunction with the library, and having the Knox church designated a Municipal Heritage Resource.

Collection management activities included continue accessions, cataloguing or re-accession of orphaned items, collection audit, and ongoing database reconciliation.

Programming activities included partnering with local businesses, purchase of green screen selfie-booth, hosted the Grade 2 classes, and continued offsite art auctions.

Council accepted the centre report as information.