Wednesday, 27 January 2010

Adopt An Artifact begins again

Schweppe's Bottle, 1920's
Tonight is a special night for me. There is one night each year where I get to go into Collections and snoop around 17,000+ artifacts and this is the night!

We have very few staff and volunteers who are permitted to do this on a regular basis, and those who do, do so because it is part of their job here. For the rest of us at the Galt Museum & Archives, it is a rare thing, as it is for the public (though with an appointment, any staff and member of the public can access this area for research, enquiries, and many other reasons).

Being an Event and Volunteer Coordinator, I at first did not understand this high level of security for these areas of the museum, but over the years our Collections Technician, Kevin Maclean, has taught me about the importance of the environment that artifacts are kept in to ensure their longevity. With that understanding has come a respect for this large storage area in the lower level of our building.

But for a few hours each year I get to spend time opening doors, pulling out shelves, looking in the database, and being intrigued by the many many things in this area. Tonight is the night where I will do so, with the assistance of one of our Collections volunteers and former staff members, Terra Plato (with security as it is, I would not do this alone).

Terra knows the Collection very well and so the two of us will, for a fundraiser that will take place this November, wander around and try to pick a variety of items, approximately 30, that well represent the different themes in Lethbridge and area's history (ie coal mining, the military, the brewery, etc). We want to have "something for everyone" so that no matter who you are, you will see one of these items and become curious and fascinated by it.

We will have Collections volunteers take photos of the chosen items. Other volunteers will take the information from our database on these items and rewrite it as more of a story and without the technical information that our database holds, that most of the public would not be interested in or care about. These items will then become part of our annual Adopt An Artifact fundraiser.

In November we will showcase these items on a website created for us, as a donation, by Lethbridge Web Design. For 30 days, the public will be able to view the images and their stories and for a minimum of $20, start bidding on an item! The artifact remains our property, but the high bidder gets a tax receipt, a photo of the item along with the story, and a chance to go into this well secured area with our curator to see the artifact they bid on, as well as some of the thousands of others in our care.

All in all it is great fun, and a neat way to raise some needed money for our Collections areas, but on top of that, it is a good chance for the public to see some of the artifacts we have - some are exactly as you'd expect, but others are maybe a bit more....umm.....weird (sorry Kevin).

With this fundraiser only being in our third year in 2010, we are hoping to grow it by leaps and bounds, so we invite you to participate at the end of the year when it goes live. In the meantime, you don't have to wonder for too long about what types of artifacts we have.....come see our Treasures & Curiosities exhibit that opens on February 20th. This exhibit will showcase about 200 artifacts that were selected by people like me and you - members of the community invited to do exactly what I am doing tonight, with each of them picking 2 artifacts for exhibit. It is sure to be an exciting, eclectic mix of "stuff" and you WILL be amazed or awed or weirded out by something, I am sure!

In the meantime, we'll be working behind the scenes for the next few months preparing for our Adopt An Artifact fundraiser, so that those of you who fall in love with Treasures & Curiosities can become more a part of the Galt, in the fall, by helping us to preserve some of the amazing, awe-inspiring, or weird artifacts that need preservation and attention to ensure that they will be around for many generations to come, by bidding away!

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