Last week Thursday, Friday and Saturday it was my privilege to participate in the Conference and Annual General Meeting of the Association of Manitoba Museums. Although we’ve maintained a membership in this organization for a number of years, this is the first year I was able to attend the event.
While I didn’t attend the Collections Management training session on Thursday, I participated in the reception that evening, held in the Brandon General Museum and Archives. This museum, as the name suggests, preserves artifacts and tells stories about the city of Brandon. Since it is quite a young museum it is still relatively small but nicely done.
On Friday we gathered in the Multi-purpose Training Facility located at CFB Shilo, 30 minutes south-east of Brandon. The theme for the day was Raising a Healthy Museum. Speakers presented on topics relating to Workplace Safety and Health legislation, dealing with toxins, arsenic and moulds, storing firearms safely and legally, and proper handling of old pharmaceuticals. Some of these were eye-opening topics. In the afternoon we visited two museums and an art gallery and were challenged to identify health and safety hazards in these buildings and their exhibits. The institutions we visited were the Daly House Museum, The Art Gallery of Southwestern Manitoba and the Commonwealth Air Training Plan Museum. After the completion of these tours and prior to dinner, those of us who chose to participate, were given a quick tour of the RCA Museum at CFB Shilo.
The evening involved a dinner in the Officers’ Mess at CFB Shilo followed by a fundraising auction. Donated items sold for about $1800, the proceeds of which will be used to fund training programs for members of the association.
Saturday sessions were convened in the Brandon Armoury, which also has a museum of war artifacts in it. These sessions included some reports of “Water Wars” as experienced by Brandon, Wawanesa and Souris earlier this year, including some reflection on how the flood affected their museums. The final speaker of the morning addressed the topic Human Connections: How Galleries and Museums Heal Our Communities. It was interesting to hear research findings and how these research findings have developed her perspectives on the positive influences museums and art galleries bring to communities in terms of fostering wellness and wholeness.
Attending such a conference includes numerous benefits. Not only did I get to see five museums and one art gallery, I also met numerous people from other museums and brought the MHV presence to the conference for others to see.