You are invited to the Grand Opening of Windmills: Sailing the Skies, an exhibit inspired by the symbol and spirit of the museum – our very own working windmill!

The Grand Opening will be held at the museum June 6 starting at 7:00 PM, kicking off with a talk by Senior Curator Roland Sawatzky and a tour of the exhibit. From there, visitors are welcome to enjoy schnetje with homemade strawberry-rhubarb jam and steaming coffee that will be served at the windmill. Serenading conversation will be the cheerful tunes of Art Rempel.

This exciting exhibit is the centerpiece of MHV’s 2013 annual theme and will be on display from June 6 to October 30.

Why was the windmill chosen for this year’s theme? For visitors and travelers, the windmill is the logo of the Mennonite Heritage Village and a landmark for Steinbach and southern Manitoba. According to Tamara Sawatzky, author of Material Culture: The Dutch Windmill as an Icon of Russian Mennonite Heritage, 1.2 million people visited MHV from 1972 to 2000, 90% of whom saw the windmill as the major attraction.

For those with Mennonite background, the windmill evokes village life. The windmill is an expression of Mennonite values of self-sustainability, simplicity, and agriculture - a unique structure that is associated with Mennonite history. As Tamara Sawatzky states “the windmill activates a knowing, an identity, for Russian Mennonites.”

The windmill dominates the village landscape and has aided the Mennonites in settlement from the Netherlands to the Vistula Delta, Poland, to Russia, to Manitoba. If any one thing could be chosen to encompass the Russian Mennonite experience, it would be a windmill.

The Windmills exhibit was an ambitious undertaking, including the restoration of two additional windmills of a very different style, multiple areas where visitors of all ages can get hands-on experience, and content that spans from 950 AD Iranian windmills to present-day wind turbines in Manitoba.

Get an inside look into the inner-workings of windmill technology, explore Peter Wiebe’s incredible to-scale windmill model, discover new ideas and implications of wind power; come and see the new exhibit Windmills: Sailing the Skies! (By Jessica McKague)

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About the Author

Barry is the Executive Director of the Mennonite Heritage Village. While he does not consider himself to be a historian, he places a high value on the preservation and interpretation of the Mennonite and pioneer stories that help people of all ages understand and appreciate their heritage. Learn more about the MHV.

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