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SV Museum keeps improving under new leadership

Melanie Memory took over the position of a new director at the museum at the beginning of April after previous director Mark Veneziano left the museum, following seven years of service.
Melanie Memory 2022
Melanie Memory is the Souris Valley Museum’s new director and future curator.

ESTEVAN - The Souris Valley Museum has a lot of plans under the leadership of their new director and future curator Melanie Memory.

Memory took over the position at the beginning of April after previous director Mark Veneziano left the museum, following seven years of service, to move to the RCMP Heritage Centre in Regina and take the job as their new community education program co-ordinator.

The first months at the job have been "really good", Memory said.

"There are lots of things to do. We have a lot of plans that we want to put into place as far as reorganizing the museum and getting our database collection," Memory said. "Museum work is not fast work. Museum work is generally pretty slow work.

“We've been working a lot on our outside buildings. We have that big project Sector 1 has been doing for us, and that's now complete. We did a little bit of work inside the schoolhouse that needed to be done, as far as gyprock and paint.

"We were also getting the grounds looking nice. I've had some board volunteers; they've put in new planters and gardens. And that's been very helpful. I'm just trying to make it a little bit nicer out here. Also, improving our storage, I've purchased the sea-can, and we're trying to get those all organized for the curatorial side of things.

"And just doing our regular programming things. We had our big garage sale, organizing all that and trying to stay relevant in the community. We also did a July 1 float in the Bienfait parade. It's been very, very busy. And I'm still continuing to do the admin side of things, do all the financial bookkeeping, and I'm writing grants and maintaining my staff.”

While the job is new for Memory, she is no stranger to the museum. In 2016, she took over the half-time administrative assistant bookkeeper position, which was her background. At that time, she was splitting her time between the museum and the Estevan Arts Council. She previously worked at Affinity Credit Union, and switching to the world of the museum and arts was a big change.

"I was still in the financial area, and I just felt like I could bring that experience to these places. And I knew on my first day that I had made the correct decision," Memory recalled.

She worked alongside Veneziano until she resigned last year, although she stayed on as a casual bookkeeper. And then she was hired as a director after Veneziano's departure.

Now her new position involves much more, but she said it goes well with her interests.

"I understand the business side of things, as far as the bookwork and all of that, because I have been doing it, but I also really like history. And then I find all that I'm going to have to learn with the curatorial stuff, especially collections management and all of that, I find that very interesting. I want to get cracking and get that started. And I do have the tools and the resources and the support to do that," Memory said.

Memory is currently taking courses in curating studies to be able to become the museum's curator. 

She said the museum board is very supportive and willing to help her with initiatives. And there are a lot of plans in place for the future.

"[The board members] have lots of good ideas. They're always telling me that they will help me with anything I want to do. [For example] with archiving, because we have tons of different history books and different photos and scrapbooks and all that kind of stuff. And I have one person on my board that's more than willing to help me get that all archived and set up so people can view it," Memory shared.

She also wants to reorganize the museum to make it more modern and more appealing to the community's interests and needs.

"There's a lot of potential here. We just have to get it refined and get it out there. And I just think we can really change the direction on this place," Memory said.

They will continue to stay open year-round and will keep going with their camps, workshops, events and other programming.

"Mark had laid all that groundwork and done that. He did a very good job at that, and that was his forte, I think. And that's good," Memory said, adding that Anna Rose Lawrence, who is the museum’s education and outreach co-ordinator, is now to focus on the programming with support from Memory. "And I want to really change the curatorial part of the museum, the other functioning part."

She added that she hopes to bring in more opportunities to kids and adults as well.