Signature Museums

   This week a couple of my online news feeds informed me that the Canadian Fossil Discovery Centre has been appointed to the province’s Signature Museums Program. This program, administered by the Historic Resources Branch of the Department of Tourism, Culture, Heritage, Sport and Consumer Protection, “assists selected museums that showcase special collections related to Manitoba’s unique historical development, and that have the potential to be significantly enhanced heritage attractions.”

   With this appointment, there are now seven Signature Museums in our province. The other six are the Commonwealth Air Training Plan Museum in Brandon, the Manitoba Agriculture Museum in Austin, the Mennonite Heritage Village in Steinbach, the New Iceland Heritage Museum in Gimli, the Saint-Boniface Museum in Winnipeg and the Royal Aviation Museum of Western Canada, also in Winnipeg. Each museum collaborates with the Historic Resources Branch to develop programing that is then supported with funding from the department.

   The Signature Museums Program focuses on five key result areas: the sustainability/visibility of the museum, the accessibility and quality of its programs, the museum’s stewardship practices with respect to its collection, the economic partnerships within its community, and the involvement of the community in supporting the museum’s operations. Goals and objectives are established in each of these areas, and funding is provided each calendar quarter. Capital projects are not eligible for funding under this program.

   This is a beneficial program for a museum to participate in, as it directs focus into areas that are significant to the growth and development of an institution. Expertise in museum operations is also provided as part of the package. We value the opportunity to consult with these knowledgeable resource people.

   We also value our collaboration with the other Signature Museums. Representatives from each usually meet together several times annually, sometimes just to share ideas and experiences and sometimes to strategize about joint marketing endeavours under the Signature Museums name.

   The Canadian Fossil Discovery Centre will be a good addition to our group. It has demonstrated creativity and assertiveness in promoting its programs to the public. One of its feature activities is a Fossil Dig Adventure Tour, where the participant has the opportunity to dig for fossils on one of their sites in the region. This is the kind of “experiential tourism” that many people are looking for today.

   As is the case with the other Signature Museums, the Canadian Fossil Discovery Centre will challenge each of us to explore new opportunities that will help keep our museums alive and vital in a very lively and exciting tourism market. To be sure, healthy museums also bring positive influences to the communities in which they are located.

Calendar of Events

- September 5: Fall on the Farm - 9:00 – 5:00

- September 18: Supper From the Field – 5:30 PM

- September 22: Volunteer Appreciation Event – 7:00 PM

- September 29: Auxiliary Fundraising Dinner

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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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