Monday, 12 July 2021

A Spotlight on Mentorship

Mentorship Program Logo

Ahead of the Mentorship Q & A session, Meredith Leary, Program Coordinator, sat down for conversations with two additional participants in the Alberta Museums Association (AMA)'s Mentorship Program: Katelin Karbonik, a Mentee in the 2020 cohort, and Robert Janes, a Mentor from the 2019 and 2020 cohorts. In the conversations below, they share their experiences in the Mentorship Program, and their thoughts about the value that mentoring with established and senior-level museum professionals can bring to the Alberta museum community.

It Could Happen to You … Sometime When You Least Expect It

Lucie Heins, BSc, MA, Assistant Curator, Daily Life & Leisure
Royal Alberta Museum 

Uncertain Times

March 11, 2020: "WHO [World Health Organization] formally declared the existence of a pandemic."[i]

Little did we know that one year later we would still be in the midst of a pandemic. It has been a difficult year for museums around the world as they navigate the effects of restrictions from social distancing, from reduced capacity to temporary closure. The big question is, how do they remain sustainable?


Sustainable and Relevant Community Museums

Bill Peters, President, Bill Peters Consulting

At the Alberta Museums Association (AMA)'s 2014 Conference, the panel discussion, "Imagining Possibilities: Building Governance Capacity for Sustainable and Relevant Community Museums" saw four members of the AMA Board of Directors discuss how to bring the wisdom of the Sustainability Working Group Report to Alberta's institutions. The panellists, Laura Gloor, Blane Hogue, Lorraine MacKay, and Bill Peters, discussed how museums can:  

1. Be seen as vital, necessary, and active contributors to our communities;

2. Understand and respond to the pressing needs of our communities through our numerous connections and networks where expertise, information, and resources are shared;

3. Organize and govern courageously in order to embrace new, efficient, and sustainable behaviours and practices; and

4. Understand how to successfully integrate all dimensions of sustainability - social, cultural, health, environmental and financial - into a vibrant expression of community.


In this piece, Bill has gathered the reflections of his colleagues as they look back on the session and consider the relevance of these lessons today.

Museums as Cultural Catalysts

Douglas Worts, Culture & Sustainability Specialist, WorldViews Consulting

Throughout my involvement with the Alberta Museums Association (AMA), the AMA has distinguished itself as a progressive force in the field. Always thoughtful about emergent trends affecting both museums and communities, the AMA has understood the need for museums to be aware of, and engaged with, the forces that shape the living culture and the culture of museums. Over the past 20+ years, I have participated in numerous AMA projects, including two favourites:

  • the development and roll-out of the Museum Excellence Program in the early 2000s, and
  • delivering the AMA's 2003 conference keynote, which focussed on the topic, "Museums in Search of a Sustainable Future," published the following year in the Alberta Museums Review, Fall 2004.

Indigenous Information Literacy: Q & A with Rachel Chong

In this e-interview, Rachel Chong explores her work creating the Indigenous Information Literacy Project at Kwantlen Polytechnic University Library. This project's development and implementation has increasingly been the subject of library professional development and information sharing in the GLAM sector (galleries, libraries, archives, and museums). As museums are facing similar knowledge-keeping, -use, and -access decisions and situations, the Alberta Museums Association (AMA) asked Rachel to share her experience with the project directly with museums.

Do Not Shy from Controversy

Aimee Benoit, Present Curator, and Wendy Aitkens, Past Curator
Galt Museum & Archives

Over the past two decades, the Galt Museum & Archives has tackled many sensitive and potentially controversial subjects for public presentation. They include exhibits on a local woman's survival in the Auschwitz concentration camp; the various influences in climate change; Indigenous people earning the rights to wear special clothing; the achievement, challenges and issues involved in sports; recent immigration to Lethbridge; and 2SLGBTQ+ histories. 

Each exhibit and the associated programs involved experts in the field, support from the community, and solid research. Planning for feedback, both positive and negative, was a major part of each project.

Monday, 21 December 2020

Sustainability through Communities of Practice

The Critical Contributions of Regular Peer Connection among Museum Professionals

by Tara Beck and Isabella Borrelli

The journey towards this blog entry began in February 2020 when two colleagues sat down to consider how their experience with communities of practice might contribute to the AMA Conference about museums and organizational sustainability. At the time, conversations primarily revolved around the value of communities of practice in combatting the institutional and professional silos common across Edmonton’s museum landscape (Edmonton Heritage Council’s Comprehensive Museum Strategy Report, 2012). Knowing the difficulty in a major city, one can only assume that our counterparts in rural Alberta face similar challenges.

A lot has happened since February which has encouraged us to broaden our considerations of the ways communities of practice can serve us in our work. Museums are at a pivotal point in their history. The Covid-19 pandemic has forced many of them to shrink dramatically, and in some cases close. The unmasking of deep rooted institutional systemic racism has called on museums to meaningfully address their histories and make changes for their futures.