Thursday, 21 September 2017
The Alberta Legislature is not a conventional museum. At first glance, its only artifacts seem to be a building and portraiture of long-forgotten lawmakers who maintain an air of solemnity (despite visiting schoolchildren making fun of Speaker Wilson’s prodigious mustache).
It is much more than that, however.
Our mandate is broad: to educate the public about the functions of government, to share the province’s political and social history, and to let Albertans know that the handsome Beaux-Arts building in the river valley isn’t just a landmark or an office for politicians. It belongs to the people of Alberta.
Tuesday, 12 September 2017
The Art Gallery of Alberta (AGA) is a centre of excellence for the visual arts in Western Canada, connecting people, art and ideas. Located in the heart of downtown Edmonton and on Treaty 6 territory, the AGA is focused on the development and presentation of original exhibitions of contemporary and historical art from Alberta, Canada and around the world. Founded in 1924, the Art Gallery of Alberta maintains a collection of over 6,000 objects and is the oldest cultural institution in Alberta. The AGA is the only museum in the province solely dedicated to the exhibition and preservation of art and visual culture.
The AGA’s iconic building is a local landmark and serves as an inspired tribute to the city. The previous building was built in 1969 and designed by Architect Don Bittorf. The building was a shining example of Brutalist Architecture, which is characterized by its use of concrete and strong geometric forms. By the early 2000s, due to out-dated mechanical systems and external envelope, a new building was needed. An international architectural competition was launched in 2005 with design submissions coming in from all over the world. Architect Randall Stout from Los Angeles won the competition with his thoughtful and inspired design. Upon entering the competition, Stout visited Edmonton and was inspired by two key things about the city. The largest source of influence was the Aurora Borealis. The ribbon of metal that runs through the main atrium of the building has been called the “Borealis” as a nod to this influence. The second source of inspiration is Edmonton’s river valley. The ribbon of steel cuts across the grid of the glass in the same way that the river cuts across the rectilinear grid of the city streets and avenues.
Tuesday, 5 September 2017
Laura Huerta Migus is Executive Director of the Association of Children’s Museums, the world’s largest professional society for the children’s museum field. She previously served as Director of Professional Development and Equity Initiatives at the Association of Science-Technology Centers. In 2016, Laura was named a White House Champion of Change. Laura Huerta Migus will be a panellist at the Closing General Session and Panel: “Museums UNITE to Improve Communities” taking place at 9:30 a.m. on Saturday, September 23, 2017 at our upcoming conference.
Can you describe how the Association for Children’s Museums is working to address social issues in your community?
The Association of Children’s Museums (ACM) serves as the collective voice and platform for action for the children’s museum sector worldwide. Children’s museums are unique in the museum world in that the universal content focus is on the audience (children and families) rather than on a specific content area or discipline.
This focus lends itself necessarily to taking into consideration the entire social environment the children our members serve in all areas of museum function. Through intensive dialogues with our board and members, as well as attention to the national and international landscapes, ACM has developed a variety of initiatives over the years to support our members taking positive action in their communities on social issues affecting children.
An example of how ACM works to empower our membership in their work on social issues with respect to inclusion and unity is our 90 Days of Action campaign, which just ended in May (http://childrensmuseums.org/about/acm-initiatives/90-days-of-action). In response to the current anti-immigrant and refugee rhetoric in the United States and around the world, we saw an opportunity to celebrate and amplify the work of children’s museums in serving immigrant and refugee children and families. For 90 days, we implemented a social media campaign sharing case studies and statistics on how children’s museums work in this space, as well as new efforts launched by our member institutions. The campaign garnered a number of media hits, and also served as a platform for individual museums to launch efforts through their own social media channels.
Tuesday, 22 August 2017
Dr. Robert R. Janes has worked in and around museums for over 40 years as an executive, consultant, editor, author, board member, archaeologist, instructor, volunteer, and philanthropist – devoting his career to championing museums as important social institutions that can make a difference in the lives of individuals and their communities. Dr. Robert Janes will be a panellist at the Closing General Session and Panel: “Museums UNITE to Improve Communities” taking place at 9:30 a.m. on Saturday, September 23, 2017 at our upcoming conference.
Can you tell us about the Coalition of Museums for Climate Justice and its overarching goals?
The Coalition of Museums for Climate Justice (CMCJ) is a network that mobilizes and supports Canadian museum workers and their organizations in building public awareness, mitigation, and resilience in response to climate change.
In order to do that, the Coalition will:
- Help build awareness of the importance of, and capacity for, climate change responses within the museum community;
- Help to mobilize museums as participants and activists in public discourse and action on climate change;
- Support museums in strengthening public awareness and mitigation of climate change;
- And lastly, we want to empower museums to lead by example.
What was your motivation for creating the CMCJ?
There are two personal reasons underlying my interest and concern in climate change, and my commitment to the activist role that museums can assume in addressing this critical issue. The first reason is that I’m a sentient being on planet earth, and I believe that I have a personal responsibility to confront the reality of climate change and try to protect the planet upon which we depend.
The second reason is that I am part of a family – I have parents, brothers and sisters, a spouse, a son, a daughter, grandchildren, cousins, etc. – each one of us is part of the web of life born of a deeper sense of time. With the consequences of climate change mounting daily, I am reminded of the words of ecologist, Joanna Macy: “If the next generation matters to us, and the children born to it do as well, then what about their children, and their children’s children?” It is time for all museum workers to assume their personal agency and take action in the world to address climate change – born of this deeper sense of time.
Thursday, 17 August 2017
Can you describe the Happy Museum Project and how it helps museums address pressing social and environmental issues in new ways?
As Director of Derby Museums, I love looking at Joseph Wright’s painting A Philosopher giving a Lecture on the Orrery in which a lamp is put in place of the Sun in Derby Museum. Painted in 1766 at the height of the British Enlightenment, it shows a group of children and adults listening attentively to a learned man explaining the wonders of the planet and the universe. The people in this picture are curious, eager to learn and attentive to the teller. Our museums, inspired by the human instinct to acquire, categorize, and show off objects, help us to make sense of our place in the world.
The Happy Museum Project looks at how the museum sector can respond to the challenge of creating a more sustainable future. It provides a leadership framework for museums to develop a holistic approach to well-being and sustainability. The project re-imagines the museum’s purpose as steward of people, place and planet, supporting institutional and community well-being and resilience in the face of global challenges.
Tuesday, 7 February 2017
Yesterday, the Alberta Museums Association started a Twitter hashtag, #museumsdomore, dedicated to promoting and sharing the important and innovative work being done by museums throughout Alberta and beyond. We strongly believe that museums play a crucial role in contributing to the social, cultural, and educational fabric of our communities.
Spread the word and join our conversation on Twitter! Share the work happening at your institutions, the stories of your communities and your volunteers, and the many reasons why museums matter.
If you’re not on Twitter, or have more to say, we always encourage contributions to this ENGAGE: Museums and Communities blog.
Thursday, 26 January 2017
The AMA is pleased to announce the launch of Museums @ the Mic, a five part podcast series focussing on stories of disaster response and recovery. The series will highlight Alberta museums during the flooding of 2013, mental health in disaster situations, and an earthquake response account from a New Zealand museum.
Museums @ the Mic Episode One Now Available: Psychological First Aid
The first episode of Museums @ the Mic, Psychological First Aid, is now available at museums.ab.ca. In the rush to recover and restore damaged objects, the physical and mental toll that emergency response has on those involved is sometimes overlooked. Debbie Grey and Catharine McFee from Alberta Health Services address the concept of Psychological First Aid and the importance of mental health care during and after a disaster.