It is not uncommon to be asked, “Who owns Mennonite Heritage Village (MHV)?” This is a reasonable question, in light of the size and complexity of our museum and the fact that museums are often owned by municipal governments. However, MHV is incorporated and is owned by its members.
Membership is available to anyone who is interested in the mission and vision of MHV. Our stated mission is “to preserve and exhibit, for present and future generations, the experience and story of the Russian Mennonites and their contributions to Manitoba.” Our stated vision is that “MHV will be the premier interpretive centre for the Russian Mennonite story.” Interested individuals and families may purchase either annual or life-time membership.
MHV communicates with its members several times a year through its mailed newsletter, Village Voice, and provides an annual overview at the Annual General Meeting (AGM) each spring. Our AGM is also the time when members are asked to make some decisions regarding the governance of the museum. Such decisions include the election of a board of directors, the acceptance of bylaws, and the approval of a new budget. Any proposed changes to MHV’s stated mission or vision would also be presented to the members for approval at an AGM.
With these fundamental pieces in place, the board is then charged with the responsibility of governing our museum. At MHV, the board functions as a governance board as opposed to a management board. This means the board is not involved in the day-to-day management of the operation but rather oversees the fundamentals of mission, vision and values. In other words, our board addresses the purpose of our museum and the way it goes about pursuing that purpose.
The board of directors is also responsible to hire a senior manager (referred to as the Executive Director), to monitor and evaluate the work of that manager, to develop and approve strategic priorities, and to approve an operating budget. The implementation of the strategic plan within the context of the approved budget then becomes the responsibility of the senior manager.
MHV’s Nominating Committee looks for a variety of qualities and skills when recruiting new board members. First and foremost, directors on our board need to be passionate about the work of this museum. While it is desirable to have strong representation from our local community, it is also valuable to have some members from the broader Mennonite constituency. While curatorial staff at our museum are typically well-educated historians, it is important to also have a few more historians on the board. Since we are not large enough to have a Chief Financial Officer, it is essential to have a skilled accountant or two on our board. In many respects, MHV operates as a business, so seasoned business people bring value to the work of the board. It is also important that there be individuals who are willing and able to accept board leadership roles (President, Vice-President, Secretary), as well as chair committees.
MHV’s board of directors meets for quarterly reporting meetings and for two additional meetings specifically scheduled to process things like the strategic plan and the budget. These are evening meetings, which typically start with supper and wind up by 9:00 p.m.
While our Nominating Committee works hard to find people who have all these skills plus the time and willingness to do the work, they are always open to suggestions from outside the committee. Contact Barry Dyck at [email protected] to pass along the name of a potential candidate. It takes a “community” to own and operate a museum.
Calendar of Events
- July 11-15 – Pioneer Day Camp for children ages 5-8
- July 29–August 1 – Pioneer Days - 10:00-6:00 daily
- August 8-12 – Pioneer Day Camp for children ages 9-12
- August 10 – Heritage Classic Golf Tournament at Quarry Oaks