Wednesday 24 August 2022

Can human rights work in museums serve as a pathway to decolonization?

Armando Perla
Chief Curator
Toronto History Museums, City of Toronto

Armando Perla, Photo Credit: James Recine 

Having been trained as a lawyer, I started my professional journey working with refugees and asylum seekers in Canada. After graduating from law school, I worked with Haitian migrant workers in the Dominican Republic during my time in Washington D.C., children in Central America who were trafficked and sexually exploited, and children’s rights advocates from the global south in Sweden. After several years abroad, I returned to Canada to be part of the team developing the Canadian Museum for Human Rights (CMHR). It was at the CMHR that I met Métis curator and scholar Tricia Logan and began a journey of self-discovery that completely transformed the way I understood and practiced human rights. When I started working at the CMHR, over a decade had passed since my arrival in Canada as an asylum seeker. I had attended  the University of Winnipeg, where I studied political sciences, and had also completed a Bachelor of Laws at Laval University in Quebec City and a Master of Laws at Lund University in Sweden. However, I had not learned about residential schools or Indigenous history. Learning from Logan that human rights were a Western construct that had often left out Indigenous perspectives was also unsettling for me. My Canadian and European legal training had never focused on looking critically at human rights.

Thursday 21 April 2022

On the Road Again: Views from the Reconsidering Museums Pilot Sites

Caroline Loewen, Project Lead 
Reconsidering Museums Project

Site visits are an important part of the Alberta Museums Association (AMA)’s work. Whether to offer a course, provide in-person advisory services, attend an exhibit opening, or simply connect, site visits bring a human touch to the AMA’s programs and services. Unfortunately, the pandemic-related public health restrictions of the last two years meant we had to scale back our in-person visits to Alberta’s museums. The lifting of restrictions, and many museums reopening just in time for spring, presented an opportunity to get back on the road and start reconnecting. Over the course of two weeks in March, Jennifer Forsyth, Lauren Wheeler, and I travelled around Alberta visiting the six museums taking part in the Reconsidering Museums project as pilot sites. Here are some of the highlights of the trips and a look at the diversity of museums across Alberta.

Monday 3 January 2022

Reconsidering Museums: What We Heard with Museums for Me

Caroline Loewen, Project Lead
Alberta Museums Association

What do Canadians see as the value of museums for them, their communities, and for Canada? Reconsidering Museums, a three-year national project, sets out to answer this question. Through a rearticulation of the value of museums and a rebrand of the sector, this project aims to support museums with the tools and language necessary to better connect with and serve their communities, deepening their relationship, and therefore their relevance, to the Canadian public.

Monday 25 October 2021

Why Museums?

Three people look at an exhibit of a dinosaur skull and a dinosaur skeleton.
Breanna Suk, President 
Alberta Museums Association Board of Directors

I have been asked a lot in my life, “Why museums?” Why choose to go to school to study history with plans to work in a museum? Why decide to focus on collections and exhibits in museums as a career path? Why stay in museums given the current economy and uncertainty? The question is always, “Why museums?” But let me ask you a few questions and see if the answer becomes clearer.

Tuesday 19 October 2021

Taking the Time: A Student’s Perspective on Collections Management

by Laura Rose Iocca 
Fourth Year Museum and Heritage Studies Student 
University of Calgary

During my time as a practicum student working at the University of Calgary Nickle Galleries, I was given the opportunity to work with one of the largest academic antique coin collections in Alberta. Through this experience, I was able to grasp the essence of what is involved in collections management, and the importance of this role relating to museum and heritage studies.

The Nickle collection consists of a variety of coins from various eras from Europe to Asia Minor. With the guidance of Marina Fischer, the Numismatic Specialist for the Nickle, I had the privilege of performing tasks that are vital to collections management: large scale inventory and cataloguing of the artifacts, researching locations on ancient maps, and ensuring descriptions and information about the artifacts were inputted correctly. As well, I cultivated vital handling techniques and storage practices for antique numismatics.

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?