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Museums association gathers for convention in Estevan

More than 40 delegates from institutions throughout the province were in Estevan this month for the Museums Association of Saskatchewan annual convention. 
City of Estevan
City of Estevan

ESTEVAN - More than 40 delegates from institutions throughout the province were in Estevan this month for the Museums Association of Saskatchewan annual convention. 

Wendy Fitch, the executive director for the association, said the crowd was smaller than expected, but that was expected because they thought some people would still be hesitant to gather with others.

This year’s theme was Community Co-curation: Carrying On. Fitch noted museums are starting to look at their role in the community a little differently, with how they engage with all parts of their communities. 

Speakers talked about how to bring diverse voices to the exhibits and programs at the museums. They also had a panel that was moderated by the Saskatoon Open Door Society, which is looking at working with newcomers to the country and communities. 

A discussion was held on reconciliation and the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s recommendation for museums and their role. 

“We ended it off with a session titled Reconsidering Museums, and it was an update on a project that’s pan-Canadian. The Museums Association of Saskatchewan is part of the consortium that’s working on that project, and it’s looking at what Canadians think about museums and how the museums can use that information to increase their connection with their communities,” said Fitch. 

People who visit museums and the general public were surveyed.

“Museums are one of the most highly-trusted sources of information out there,” said Fitch. “People … truly believe that if you go to a museum and you learn something there, they’re telling you the accurate information.”  

Some of the speakers appeared remotely. The keynote address came from Sharanjit Sandhra in B.C.  

Estevan was supposed to host the conference in 2020 and 2021, but it was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Fitch said delegates had hoped to visit the Souris Valley Museum located west of Estevan, but a renovation is underway. They were able to tour the North West Mounted Police Museum, located next to the Estevan Art Gallery and Museum.

The opening of the museum and a reception for the convention were held June 9 as part of the EAGM’s arts night.

“They’ve got some really great exhibits that they’re working on to improve the messaging around reconciliation and the role of First Nations in that area.”  

EAGM executive director Amber Andersen was very enthusiastic and a great host, Fitch said.

She also noted the hospitality they experienced was great throughout the convention, and some people took time to go shopping in the community and tour the city.

Tracene Harvey, who is the director of the museum of antiquities at the University of Saskatchewan, is their new president. Helanna Gessner, who is with the Diefenbaker Canada Centre, is the vice-president. 

This was the last conference for Finch, who is retiring, and she reflected on highlights from her time with the association. She was presented with a plaque and cake was served to mark her departure.