Thursday, 21 July 2011

Farewell Galt.....

Lori and volunteer Shelby - winner of a Leader of Tomorrow award

The time has come for me to move on. An amazing opportunity has come my way and so this is the last week of my time at the Galt Museum & Archives, and so this will be my last blog (though other staff will, of course, continue).

I remember starting here in 2003 - my friends thought that only "old people" worked at museums and so were surprised by my excitement for this new job. However, I learned quite quickly that most of us were in fact in our 30s and though I was the youngest, it was only by 6 months!

From the start, I was thrown into a fun and busy work life - my first week of work had my first event - a car show called Memories in Metal. Within a month of that I was helping co-ordinate an Alberta Museums Association conference, planning the museum's first ever sleepover (for Halloween), overseeing turning the museum into a Haunted House, and running a sold out week of bus tours visiting "haunted" locations. This was quickly followed by the museum's first year partnering with the hospital for the Christmas Tree Festival! By the time Christmas came, I was ready for a breather!

In the years that have passed, it has continued to be that busy. My favourite thing has been that I have always been able to try new things so that my ideas aren't just something that stays in my brain, I can create and bring them to fruition. I have created/invented some successful events - Taste of Downtown and Rocky Horror Picture Show in particular; and I have had some flops - our Late Night Friday Night program, especially Unlucky in Love (a Valentine's program for singles - great idea, not so loved by the singles out there!). I have been able to grow the events that existed before I started here - Scotch and Burns, Beer Tasting and Eggstravaganza.

I have enjoyed starting up Wine Tasting (which is now annual), and loved the Feast of the Black Knight - a Medieval Feast (a one time sell out event). I am grateful to my colleague, Kevin, for sharing a youtube video that led to the creation of our VIP/Donor Party event theme - (Arti)fact or Fiction! I remember dealing with so many regulations trying to do a Guiness World Record attempt at the Lethbridge Air Show - dealing with police, air regulations, Guiness' rules, and this all shortly after September 11th, well they considered our attempt a risk as people had to wear "disguises" to participate, as it was for the most people wearing Groucho Marx glasses at one time. That was a hard one to convince the powers-that-be that we could do it and made the regulations of Beer Tasting seem like kindergarten.

Aerial photo of Guiness World Record Attempt for the most people wearing Groucho Marx Glasses at one time (we were unsuccessful at setting the record) - 2005

I have planned the Grand Re-opening of the museum after the expansion and the Centennial celebration of the building.....have organized a Blackfoot Blessing of the building and also a black tie donor party.

Hoop dancing and other entertainment took place all around the building and inside - Grand Reopening May 2006

The official ribbon cutting after the official ceremony

The closing ceremonies of the Tibetan Monk tour, where they swept up the sand mandala and gave some to everyone in the audience

But with all of this, one thing stands out in my mind the most, and to this day I still get people who talk to me about it when they see me - the Tibetan Monk tour. In 2006 I hosted a group of Tibetan monks for a week in Lethbridge. I organized all their meals (donations), billetting, and then opportunities for them to perform, speak, share their stories, as well as a location for them to create their mandala. Over 3000 people participated in that experience and daily, people were moved to tears watching (the monks did not speak English so if their translator was not close by, there was no verbal communication but the experience was still that powerful for some). I took the monks to the hospital where they chanted and prayed for those in need, and we went to Brocket to talk to the kids and compare the experiences of the natives in Alberta and the Tibetan refugees. That week was the highlight of my time at the Galt - nothing I have done has changed and effected so many people, I believe, and in such a positive and wonderful way.

Blessing the Galt Museum & Archives a few days before the public opening (along with my sons, Seth and Levi)

What mostly stands out is that I have had these opportunities and met so many people as a result!

And the people....

Galt staff at Frisbee Golf - June 2010

The staff - so welcoming, kind, and truly a family. I felt so welcomed and to this day feel a part of a truly special group - those who were here before me and continue to be here - Greg (only has 1.5 weeks left before he retires), Kevin, Brad, Belinda, and Michelle! In time were very lucky to add more people who have since joined the family - Anine, Lea-ann, Evelyn, Wendy, Leslie, Beatrice, Susan, and most recently our new archivist, Andrew.

Toshiko - sweet, wonderful Toshiko

And the volunteers - starting here with about 60 volunteers in total, doing a few thousand hours/year, to now over 300 volunteers putting in over 12,000 hours/year.....well its like the events - it has grown so much and so amazingly. I am always honoured to be able to introduce the museum to these people who have time to give and have chosen us as the recipient of that. Time is so very precious these days and so every hour these people do, every task they complete, means a lot to me! I know that this museum would be very little without the volunteers - offering much much less than we do, and helping so that most of us can go home at 4:30 (most of the time anyhow). Their love for history, for the future, for the artifacts and photos, and for each other and the staff, is something that I will truly truly miss.

Tom, the epitome of dedication!

Ellie - wonderful event intern!

But now, I will move on....not leaving the City, as I am just moving over to City Hall, but the best thing about this is in my new job I will provide support to organizations in the areas I have developed so much skill, passion and knowledge about in my time here at the Galt. This will only help to enhance the whole community for all of its citizens. I look forward to the challenges and will continue to always put in 110% to my job to make this community the best it can be, but you can bet, in time, you'll see me here attending the events and volunteering my time at the Galt!

Thank you....all of you!

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