Local museums help foster a connection to history

Wetaskiwin and District Heritage Museums offers many historic gems

Providing a link to the community’s past, the Wetaskiwin and District Heritage Museum offers many gems that are key features of the museum, or that visitors may not know about.

Several staff and volunteers’ favourite aspects of the museum include the Ashoro, Japan exhibit, the Chinese laundry exhibit, a historic barber’s pole, and the Women of Aspenland.

“What I found really interesting, in almost every instance, it was personal. And that’s the beauty of the museum,” said Karen Aberle, executive director and chief curator.

Aberle added, in a person discovering their favourite piece or exhibit in the museum, it is often because they have made a personal connection and with that comes feelings of nostalgia.

“And that’s always the beauty of local history,” said Aberle.

Aberle says the Women of Aspenland is one of the museum’s biggest projects, with a celebratory ceremony held annually, and while some of the recipients are no longer with the community their families attending in their stead also bring that connection and nostalgia to the affair.

“We’re all a part of history and make contributions to our community and this story deserves to be told,” said Aberle.

The Heritage Museum’s playrooms also offer a unique addition to the programming it can offer, says Aberle.

“Those playrooms are a godsend,” she added.

Aberle says when the Wetaskiwin and District Heritage Museum moved into its current location approximately 13 years ago staff wanted to ensure there was something special on site geared toward the youth visitors of the museum, including schools tours and summer camps; allowing the children to discover and play on their own terms. “They are invaluable because programming didn’t have to be structured all day.”

“They don’t even know they’re learning. They think they’re just playing,” said Aberle.

However, like other aspects of the museum, the playrooms help reinforce positive connections to the museum that can grow with the youth.

The Wetaskiwin and District Heritage Museum also has multiple upcoming events and exhibits for the public to take in this fall.

The annual Al Lund Memorial Motorbike Ride will take place Sept. 10, “With all proceeds benefiting the Heritage Museum,” said Aberle.

The museum will also be a celebration site for Alberta Culture Days, which will take place Sept. 29 and 30, and Oct.1

“This is a partnership between the Heritage Museum, Alberta Culture, the City of Wetaskiwin, the Wetaskiwin Art Club,” said Aberle.

More details about the event will be released as they are confirmed.

The Wetaskiwin and District Heritage Museum Youth Network also continues to make progress on a youth created and directed exhibit featuring the weird and strange laws of Wetaskiwin.

“They are currently in the planning stage. They are trucking right along,” said Aberle. “They’ve been given their spot, they’ll be in the window.

Aberle says the Wetaskiwin and District Heritage Museum is a place where the staff love their jobs and creating an experience for the community. “This place is a treasure for the community.”

amelia.naismith@pipestoneflyer.ca