Museum Relevance

   In my younger years I had little or no interest in history, be it Canadian history, Mennonite history or any other history. I suspect my high-school history teacher may have sadly noted my apparent apathy. It’s not uncommon to hear similar sentiments from other people, even those my age, who still have little interest in things historical.

   At Mennonite Heritage Village (MHV), we often discuss how our museum can be relevant in an environment where many people do not find history engaging. MHV needs to be a vital member of its community and its broader constituency. Our education program, which involves several thousand students annually, is one of the ways we reach our community. We hold festival days like Manitoba Day, Canada Day, Pioneer Days, Open Farm Day, and Fall on the Farm, which together attract 10,000 - 15,000 guests annually. Our facilities are available to families, businesses and other organizations for meetings, parties, picnics, receptions and the like. However, we need to be consistently relevant year round, not only during the summer season.

   With this in mind, MHV has a host of February activities planned to engage people’s various interests. The month of February is officially designated “I Love to Read Month,” so we will highlight that with our second annual Author Reading Event on Thursday, February 7, at 7:00 p.m. in our Auditorium.

   The following authors will read from their recent publications and be available to sign books purchased that evening: Waldemar Janzen – Reminiscences of My Father Wladimir Janzen; Werner Toews – Sketches From Siberia, The Life of Jacob D. Suderman; Glen Klassen – Hope, Healing and Community. The ensemble Accent will provide musical entertainment. This event will be relevant to book lovers and historians alike. Admission is free.

   On Friday, February 8, at 6:00 p.m., the local Peace Project Committee will host a fundraising banquet at MHV to raise money for an interpretive exhibit to supplement the recently installed monument of Dirk Willems. The evening will feature a choir from the Crystal Springs Hutterite Colony and a talk by Dora Maendel, a teacher at the Fairholme Hutterite Colony. She will tell the story of four young men sentenced to 20 years in Alcatraz for their refusal to enlist in the military in 1918. This event will have particular relevance for those who value our Anabaptist history and theology. Tickets are $25 and can be purchased at MHV by calling 204-326-9661.

   On the following Friday, February 15, MHV will host a teen gala event with an Old Time Western County Fair theme. Activities will include an escape room; a photo booth; carnival games; face painting, henna and airbrushing; dancing and snacks. This event seeks to increase our relevance to high-school-age students. It begins at 7:00 p.m., and admission is $10.

   Then on Saturday, February 16, we will host the second annual MHV Winter Carnival. Beginning at 10:00 a.m., there will be skating, horse-drawn sleigh rides, a bonfire, indoor and outdoor games, and snacks will be available from a canteen. Regular MHV admission rates apply, which means that all current MHV members get in free.

   An additional activity is also available at MHV throughout February and the remainder of our winter months. The City of Steinbach has once again created a skating rink on our museum grounds. We are making it available to our community free of charge (except on Feb. 16 as noted above) during regular museum hours. We are open Tuesday through Saturday from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. A great family outing!

   MHV’s relevance to our community will continue to increase as we seek to serve various interest groups and demographics in creative ways. History may suddenly seem less stuffy to the sceptics out there.

Calendar of Events

February 7, Second Annual Author Reading Event – 7:00 PM

February 8, Peace Project Fundraising Event – 6:00 PM

February 15, Teen Gala – Western Night – 7:00 PM

February 16, MHV Winter Carnival – 10:00 AM – 4:00 PM

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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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