Auction for Action

Walking With Our Sisters (WWOS) is currently holding an Auction For Action.  The Auction started on February 15th and runs until March 6th.  This year WWOS is partnering with Awasis: A Sacred Journey, Butterflies in Spirit, and Got Bannock.  All the proceeds from the auction will be shared between these four community based initiatives.

The Auction is facilitated through a facebook page set up by WWOS. The 21 day auction is open to anyone on facebook, both to bid and to provide donations.  To donate an item to the auction donors simply upload a good quality photograph of the donated item, a short description, and shipping details.  Bidders can big directly on the item using the facebook comment function.  The community based nature of the fundraiser reflects the grassroots nature of all the projects involved.  A large number of the items already donated are handmade, indigenous made, and beautiful works of art.  Well worth a look for anyone interested in supporting these great causes.

More information about each of the organizations this fundraising supports can be found below:

Walking With Our Sisters (WWOS) is a memorial that honours the lives of murdered and missing Indigenous women and girls. WWOS is touring until 2019 at 32 locations across North America.The exhibit incorporates the act of ceremony and honouring with the work of approx.1400 artists who created 1808 pairs of moccasin tops. Operated entirely by volunteers, with none of the organizers getting paid, this project has not applied for nor received a government grant for the materials, shipping costs or any other costs associated with it.

Awasis: A Sacred Journey. Donna Gamble is walking across Canada for “my sisters who’ve left and those who continue to struggle. I also pray for our babies and the brothers. As a mother grandmother & Chapan (great grandmother), I walk in prayer for missing and murdered sisters and for the health of our communities and children. ‘Awasis’ is a child. Donna began her journey when Tina Fontaine (15) was murdered in Winnipeg. She completed the first half of her walk in the fall of 2014 from BC to Sask. She continues her walk this spring from Sask to Ottawa. Proceeds from this auction will go to support her completing her journey.

Butterflies in Spirit is a Vancouver dance troupe raising awareness of violence against Aboriginal women and girls, including those who have gone missing or have been murdered. To commemorate them, their images are worn on t-shirts in performance, as the dancers pay respect to their lives. They have performed at more than 10 events across Canada.Got Bannock is a grassroots initiative by Althea Guiboche to feed the hungry, the homeless and less fortunate on the cold streets of Winnipeg Her motto is “in honour of the village we once had”. Althea is a stay-at-home single parent who encourages a more selfless life that caters to Mother Earth and her children. She states “The traditional village my people once had was based on respect, honour and love. We were self-governed and every member of the tribe was a contributor towards survival of the village…our wealth was measured less in what we had than in what we shared with one another.” Proceeds from this auction will go to Got Bannock to be able to continue the good work it does.

Shifting Priorities and Heritage Relevancy

The May/June issue of Muse included a number of short pieces focusing on relevancy, visitor engagement, and doing more with less resources.  A short International Council of Museums (ICOM) writeup by Mannon Blanchette hit the issue squarely on the head by noting,”In the face of constant and rapid transformations, museums are trying to meet the important challenge of remaining relevant and effective…”

Heritage organizations across the spectrum are being asked to provide more with fewer financial and physical resources.  Arts and heritage organizations are at times seen as ‘extras’ by communities, individuals, and funding bodies.  Yet, the preservation of our past, the educational value of heritage, and importance of community spaces are all things which museums contribute to communities. 

So how are heritage organizations adapting to changing societal needs and expectations?

  • Building a digital presence.  Using social media and digital collection tools it is possible for heritage organizations to reach potential visitors in new ways.  However, the most effective digital presences are engaging and not merely static websites.  Creating a digital space which invites user participation and encourages online users to visit a physical space requires staff time and commitment.
  • Seeking new sources of funding.  With declining governmental funding many heritage organizations are looking to revamping their funding structures.  This often includes developing a great capacity for fundraising and an emphasis on seeking private donors.
  • Emphasizing community connections.  Providing services to the local community the extend beyond a heritage collection are often part of this.  Initiatives such as participating in Doors Open events, sponsoring a community garden, partnering with other organizations to host events, and bringing heritage outside of the institution through booths and off site outreach programming are all ways which heritage organizations have fostered strong community connections.
  • Social engagement.  Heritage organizations need to be stronger advocates for their needs and in promoting their services and values.  The days of simply waiting for people to visit an institution based on chance are gone.  Active communication with stakeholders, potential visitors, and the community at large are essential.

Collection Glimpse: The Manitoba Museum

This is the sixth segment in a series of posts entitled, “Collection Glimpses.”  Each post in the series  focuses on a unique collection, innovative repository, or a not well known cultural heritage institution.

 The Manitoba Museum is the largest heritage and science centre in Manitoba.  Founder in 1965, the Museum’s collections highlight the heritage of the region, while the planetarium and science centre focus on hands-on learning. 

The most unique thing about the Manitoba Museum is perhaps its emphasis on 3D walk through galleries within a museum setting.  Unlike most museum settings which are two-dimensional spaces, three-deminsional galleries provide a feeling of immersion in a setting. Some of the Museum’s notable 3D galleries include: Nonsuch, a full-size 17th century sailing vessel, the Urban Gallery, which takes you back in time to Winnipeg during the 1920′s, and the Ancient Seas exhibit, which includes three screen animation of what the sea was like in Manitoba years ago.  Ancient Seas was featured in the March/April issue of Muse.

The Manitoba Museum also has a number of innovative fundraising programs.  The Museum`s Adopt an Artefact program, an idea similar to the WWF`s adopt an endangered animal program, allows donors to symbolically adopt an artefact of their choice.  The Adopt an Artefact helps make donations a bit more tangible to donors and is allows non-display artefacts to be brought to the attention of donors. Other fundraising initiatives allow donors to donate to a special project.  These projects may include preservation work on a large exhibit, development of an interactive exhibit, or outreach programming.  Similar to the adoption program, special project fundraising helps people visualize and identify what they are donating to.

The Museum`s website provides a great overview of the organization`s educational programs and galleries. Additionally, the museum has digitized part of its collection and made it available via a searchable database.  Each item in the database includes a picture and basic descriptive identifiers.  The collection photographs are a great resource, however I wish more contextual and historical information was available about the collections.

Photo credits: ajbatac and quinet

Closed Stacks, Open Shutters

The Closed Stacks, Open Shutters: An Archivist Photobook became available today. The book initially started off as an idea for a sexy archivist calendar and is the result of a call for “sexy archivist” pictures and on Twitter.

All proceeds raised by the sales of the Photobook go towards next years Spontaneous Scholarships fund which helps pay the registration fee for some students and recent grads at the annual Society of American Archivists (SAA) conference.

Still not convinced? Kate over at ArchivesNext has a great list of the top five reasons to buy a copy.

Seasonal Exhibits: Holiday Heritage

It’s that time of year, Christmas merchandise has already started to fill the malls, and the beginning of the commercial holiday season is looming ever closer.  In the heritage field a lot of organizations are beginning to plan and develop exhibits and activities that coincide with the upcoming holidays. 

As a child, one of my favourite holiday related exhibits was put on by the Dufferin County Museum and Archives.  It focused on old toys and games.  I remember thinking it was like seeing a window into the holidays off the past.  A lot of museums and archives use the holiday season to display items from their collection relating to the holidays, winter, and seasonal celebrations.

Many heritage organizations also use the holidays to their advantage by holding fundraisers and seasonal workshops.  Bake sales, wreath making tutorials, Christmas teas, food drives, and craft/art shows are some of the common fundraisers. Heritage house and light tours are also often undertaken during the holiday season.

What are some of your heritage holiday memories? What is your institution doing in preparation for the upcoming holiday season?

Photo Credit: sickofstatistics

Built Heritage: Round Barns


There are reportedly only three 12-sided round barns in Canada. Two of which happen to be located not far from where I’m currently living. One is found just outside of Thessalon, Ontario is currently being used as a gift shop. This building was built in 1928 by local resident Alex Campbell, Jr.. The barn’s roof has been re-shingled in recent years (2003) however the rest of the barn maintains its original integrity.

The second barn is located also located in the Municipality of Huron Shores and was recently relocated and re-purposed to be a community building. This barn was previously known locally as the Cordukes’ barn, and was constructed by local resident Thomas Cordukes in 1918. Local history suggests that Alex Campbell assisted Thomas Cordukes in the construction of this barn in 1918 and perhaps was inspired by that experience when constructing his own round barn ten years later.

In the early 2000s the local heritage association identified the historical significance of the Cordukes’ barn and through local fundraising in 2009 work on relocating and restoring the Corduckes’ barn began. Many of the original beams and posts were rotted beyond repair however where possible the original materials of the barn were reused. The municipality currently envisions this re-purposed barn to serve as a museum, community dance hall, farmers market, and general gathering place. This barn has just opened up for public functions and is well on it’s way to becoming integrated into the community. It’s great to see a heritage building being preserved and reused.