CANMORE – The Canmore Museum is looking to the future in order to properly honour the past and has set the wheels in motion for the launch of a new strategic plan on April 15, 2021.
“I think many cultural organizations in the province, across Canada and internationally, have been dramatically affected by the pandemic,” said Ron Ulrich, executive director of the Canmore Museum.
In-person events have been restricted and funding has been a challenge. But Ulrich believes the silver lining in all of this for many organizations, and the Canmore Museum in particular, is the opportunity to take stock of the situation and map a new path forward.
“We’ve A, had the time, and B, have needed to frankly, take a good look at what we’re doing in our communities and how we serve our communities,” Ulrich said.
“And I think any new executive director coming into an organization asks those questions anyway, ‘who are we, what are we doing, how are we serving our community, what are our audiences?’ ”
Ulrich took over his new post on July 6, 2020, and has been working on improvements and upgrades ever since. An updated museum shop is ready to go, and Ulrich used a cooking metaphor to tease the future programming and the information campaign to support it.
“We’ve got a lot of good stuff cooking … something fresh, made with local ingredients,” he said.
As part of this path forward, the museum is also seeking public feedback to make sure the new ideas are in line with local interests. The museum will host one-and-a-half hour virtual focus groups on Feb. 11, from 7 to 8:30 p.m. and on Feb. 13, from 2 to 3:30 p.m.
A short survey is also available for public input, and it is hoped that a broad cross-section of local residents will participate to get an accurate sampling of the community’s current needs, while recognizing that the town’s history is more than just coal mining.
“Coal mining certainly is the foundation that played a major role in establishing our community, but our community is continuing to evolve and change,” Ulrich said.
The group has been examining contemporary museum practices to help shape the strategic plan and define the role they will be playing.
Adopting a values-based approach to future programming – as well as to the assessment and updating of the collection – is of paramount importance. The places and faces and objects – and perhaps most importantly the stories – that patrons value is something the organization is trying to address.
“And that will be the basis of everything that we’ll be unveiling on April 15,” Ulrich said.
In the recent past, there has been a steady turnover of staff at the museum, but Ulrich is confident the current group is well placed to push the agenda forward.
“We have a really good team now,” Ulrich said. “We are excited to bring new thinking and new approaches to the Canmore Museum. It's a really balanced, thoughtful, energetic, and experienced team now in place at the museum that is quite anxious to make an impact in our community.”
Go to canmoremuseum.com for more information on the upcoming virtual focus groups, the online survey, and the ongoing programming at the Canmore Museum.