Larsons honoured at Museum

Sylvia and Helmer Larson have been honoured

Vol 15. Issue 10, Leduc - Wetaskiwin Pipestone Flyer

Sylvia and Helmer Larson have been honoured for their 30 years of dedication and service to the Wetaskiwin and District Heritage Museum at a special ceremony and by the naming of the main display and meeting area in their honour: the LARSON GALLERY.  It is fair to say that Wetaskiwin would not have this excellent museum without the vision, dedication and capability of the Larsons.

It all began in 1980 when Wetaskiwin City Council authorized Sylvia to attend an Alberta Museum Association conference to gather information on museum operations. After hearing her report, City Council set up a steering committee to establish a Museum Society.  Volunteers came to assist, the public provided support, and Helmer started building.  On Sept. 23rd, 1985, the museum opened in the renovated Water Works building.  On May 20th, 1986, the Wetaskiwin and District Museum Society was registered as a society by Consumer and Corporate Affairs.  In the following years, the Museum floor space expanded from 1000 to 7000 square feet as Helmer and assistants kept building and renovating and Sylvia and assistants kept developing more displays, including programs for school tours which were consistent with school curriculum for each grade level from Kindergarten to Grade Six.   Sylvia’s outstanding work and ability have been recognized for both her local work and her contribution regionally and provincially.  She was a founding member of the board, and served on it in many capacities such as First Vice President, on several committees, and as a representative to workshops and conferences until in 1991 she was chosen President of the Board, the position she still holds today.  She served on the Alberta Museum Association committee which investigated museum standards in Central Alberta Museums and has been a member of the Central Alberta Museum Network since it began in 1994, also serving as its president for a term.  The Alberta Museums Association Silver Merit Pin was awarded to Sylvia in 1996.  She represented the Central Alberta Museums Network when accepting the Award of Merit for its outstanding achievement in 1998.  She accomplished all of this and more before she retired from teaching school in 2000.

In 2001, Sylvia became the fulltime manager of the Wetaskiwin and District Heritage Museum.  In 2002, she received the Museums Alberta Recognition of Contribution Award, for which she was nominated by Central Alberta Museums Network.

Very appropriately, in recognition of their extraordinary work within the museum community, both Sylvia and Helmer were presented with the Distinguished Service Award from Alberta Museums Association and the Alberta Historical Society.

Sylvia’s vision has brought varied and unique features to the Museum.  The Women of Aspenland was proposed for all the Central Alberta Museums, but it is Sylvia at the Wetaskiwin and District Heritage Museum who has developed it into an ongoing program since 1996 which recognizes the continued importance of women in the community by adding to the display each year.  It is Helmer’s building skill which produced this exhibit’s display cases which are envied throughout the museum community.   Once in the larger building, Sylvia also initiated entertainment features, some of them based on the Chautauqua programs which had been presented early in the last century all across the U.S.A. and Canada by performing groups sent out  from the original Chautauqua Center on Lake Chautauqua in south-western New York State.  

The first hour of the celebration of Sylvia’s and Helmer’s 30 years of enormous contributions to the Wetaskiwin and District Museum was by invitation only in order to not over crowd the available space.  This hour was followed by a couple hours of Open House to celebrate their 30 years of tireless contributions, as well as to celebrate the 25th Anniversary of the Wetaskiwin and District Heritage Museum.

 

 

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