A travelling exhibit detailing the impact of Chinese restaurants on the history of Alberta will be the centrepiece of a special open house with a local twist at the Mountain View Museum this week.
Chop Suey on the Prairie: a Reflection on Chinese Restaurants in Alberta, an exhibit developed by the Royal Alberta Museum in Edmonton, has been in Olds since Jan. 31 and will be part of an open house on Thursday night that features former Olds resident Jim Wong as the guest speaker.
Adding the local component, which features a display put together by the museum staff to complement the Royal Alberta Museum's multi-media exhibit along with the direct descendant of the family that opened Olds' famous Public Lunch 100 years ago, should make for a terrific evening, according to the museum's manager.
ìWe decided that we needed really to do an event around this exhibit, and what better than to have Jim come up and talk about his time in Olds, his family history and the Public Lunch,î Michael Dougherty explained.
According to information compiled by the Royal Alberta Museum, there are more Chinese restaurants in North American than all fast-food outlets combined. The number of restaurants that sprung up on the prairies during the years of settling made them a huge part of many communities' early development.
The touring exhibit outlines that history ñ and includes a picture of the iconic Olds restaurant ñ but part of the mandate of the tour is to continue collecting more detailed information on local histories on the topic of Chinese restaurants.
ìOne of the things with our contract in bringing it in is the information we collect about our local Chinese heritage, we give back to the Royal Alberta and they're developing a much larger exhibit that will be permanent in Edmonton,î Dougherty said. ìIdeally there'd be a lot of information about the Public Lunch and the Wong family in that exhibit.î
Making the collection of information regarding the Public Lunch and arranging the open house easier is the fact that Jim Wong remains a member of the Olds Historical Society.
The open house runs from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. at the museum on Thursday night with Wong's address starting at approximately 7:30 p.m. There will be light refreshments available as will viewing of the travelling and local exhibits on the topic.
The display will remain in Olds until Feb. 23 at the museum's main gallery with the museum open Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. until 4 p.m.