Since 1977, May 18 has been recognized as International Museum Day, a day to recognize the importance of museums and to raise awareness of the work museums do in our communities and across our nations.
This year I decided to focus on some of the people (paid and unpaid staff) who work so diligently at the Galt and at other southern Alberta museums. Below, in their own words, are some reasons why they choose to work at a museum and what they love about the museum.
"I became involved in volunteering at the Galt Museum after I attended three Story Catchers workshops and events that were part of the Historic Lethbridge Festival in 2009. One was an evening of film, screening the Story Catcher's projects, documenting the lives of everyday people in Lethbridge, and the other two were workshop on methods of collecting oral history and the art of doing biography. Since the museum regularly offers opportunities to do oral histories to the applied studies students, I was offered an opportunity too, through various people, when the museum had its exhibit on the Galt Hospital. I am very enthusiastic about this type of work, since it fits in well with my education in anthropology." ~ Judy P.
"I was interested in Lethbridge's history when we moved from Edson to Lethbridge five years ago and the museum was an excellent place to do that." ~ Nancy P.
"History has always been my interest and I first got involved with museums at Fort William Historical Park learning historical interpretation. My main experience with museums and understanding of them was with you [Belinda Crowson] as your research assistant. Helping people appreciate history is important to me and I think museums are an important tool in doing that." ~ Victoria H.
"I became interested in working at the Galt because I was born there and was very proud that it is now a museum. The programs offered are fantastic, the staff and volunteers wonderful and when I volunteer I feel I give back to our great community, have fun and I am always learning something new and interesting." ~ Carol R.
"I don't exactly remember why I started volunteering at a Museum. My guess is that I love volunteering, doing things in the community, and helping others out and learn new things. Not to mention meeting new people, and inspiring or helping shed light on some topics of interest.
I have been in museums across the country with displays from art, nature, industry, and displays of daily life. It gave me and others a chance to learn just a bit more about our world now and in the past. We are very lucky to live in a country where we can see displays and interactive tools from local, provincial, national and international locations, with input from local people to internationally renowned experts." ~ Felicia D.
"Having been a volunteer in the education and health and wellness sectors for many years, I was looking for a different volunteer opportunity. When a friend and member of the Friends Society of the Sir Alexander Galt Museum & Archives newly organized Board of Directors asked if I would be interested in helping, I was glad to get involved. Now after 12 years of involvement in raising money to assist with educational initiatives, I continued to find the work interesting and fulfilling. Because we are able to raise the needed money through dinners, speaking series, raffles and casinos, school classes are transported by bus to and from the museum. The eagerness of the students to learn about all facets of local history is my reward for helping. It has been fun!!" ~ Mary O.
"For a volunteer to donate at the Galt Museum is both educational and rewarding. Regardless if a volunteer has a one hour or hundreds to donate to a museum, each minute collectively fills in the sands of time to help capture for future patrons how story's are always unfolding.
I enjoy that as a volunteer, there is always something that can be learned or knowledge shared with other volunteers. That is the environment that makes volunteering so fun!" ~ Glenn M.
"I live to volunteer at the museum because the people who visit the museum have such interesting stories and historical knowledge to share." ~ Marilyn L.
"One of the biggest perks I treasure in my job as Curator is the opportunity to meet many people who are really special to this community. Just recently, I met and works with members of local labour unions, people who make a significant contribution to the sports in our community, and students who explored women's history at the university. It is so exciting to meet and work with such interesting and dedicated people." ~ Wendy A.
"As a kid on a farm, my greatest pleasures were fort building and finding something I identified as 'old'. Holding something in my hands that pre-dated my time (7-12 ys/o) -- maybe even my parents' time -- was magical. Back then, it was the unanswered questions that I was most thrilled by, my imagination filling in the gaps. Today, I find greatest fulfillment in my job when I think that my documentation work may provide valuable future insights to Galt staff, visitors, donor families and/or wider Museum professionals. I feel like I am making a small difference." ~ Kevin M.
"To list all of the reasons I work at a museum and all of the great parts of my job would take up too much space. Only here can I help a woman learn the name of her father when all the information she has is a nickname and that he was a German Prisoner of War on a particular farm near Rolling Hills in the 1940s. Or witness a student's smile as she plays with a yarn doll that she just learned how to make. Observe a student visiting with parents and family quoting the tour I gave to his class days early and with him now acting as a tour guide for his family. Or celebrate with a past Applied Studies student when we learn she's been accepted into the Public History Masters Program -- great for her and great for us knowing that there would soon be another professional out there with passion and knowledge to bring history alive to the public. Or... As I said, too many to list but it's invigorating to think that in museums across Alberta and Canada and around the world similar stories are told by museum staff and volunteers everywhere. All of these stories and all of this work together changes the world every single day." ~ Belinda C.