Does your museum, heritage site or heritage association need a little inspiration to get started on planning an activity for this year’s Culture Days taking place September 28-30? Here are six great examples of how museums and heritage organizations are participating in Culture Days.
Culture Days is not just for the arts – Heritage is part of culture too!
Culture Days is about celebrating the full spectrum of what “culture” represents. Ontario Museum Association Executive Director Marie Lalonde reminds us that “Historical, natural sciences and other types of museums as well as heritage associations of all stripes are welcome to participate. Reach out to new audiences through Culture Days by sharing some of the unique local artefacts and stories your museum is dedicated to preserving.”
- Example: The Lake of the Woods Museum in Kenora is offering free admission during Culture Days to its exhibit "Flying by the Seat of their Pants." This exhibit celebrates the extraordinary role bush planes have played in the Kenora’s history and culture.
Culture Days is a chance to correct public misperceptions
Meg Hamilton, Executive Director of the Council of Heritage Organizations in Ottawa acknowledges that “Sometimes public perceptions of museums and heritage sites are based on out-dated stereotypes that these places are boring and stuffy institutions. Yet, many museums regularly present fun-filled, hands-on activities and heritage sites often have live re-enactments and other participatory events.” Culture Days is a chance to highlight this type of programming and help the public discover that museums and heritage sites are full of exciting, entertaining things to do.
- Example: The Joseph Schneider Haus National Historic Site in Waterloo will host local guilds, including spinners, weavers, calligraphers and more for Culture Days. The public will get to learn how to turn wool into yarn, try pearl stitching and other craft techniques.
What’s in the Vault?
Most museums are only able to display a small fraction of their collections at any given time yet the public often don’t know about the work museums do to catalogue, store and protect artefacts in their collections. Vault tours and curator talks are two easy ways to share the fascinating work that goes on behind-the-scenes at museums. What if, for security reasons, you can’t provide an actual tour of the vaults or collections facilities? Do it virtually with a slideshow of some of the hidden treasures of the collection. Or invite the public to bring their own family heirlooms to the museum where they can learn about techniques for protecting and storing these items for future generations.
- Example: Museum London is offering vault tours of their material culture collection vault where they store 25,000 artifacts reflecting the history of London. The Curator of Regional History will be on hand to take questions.
Food and drink can bring history to life
What better way to commune with the past than to smell and taste it? See a meal being created from 100 year-old recipes, learn about dinning etiquette from days-of-yore and taste some long-forgotten ingredients that were mainstays in our ancestors’ diets. These are just a few of the ways that food and drink can make history interactive.
- Example: The Atikokan Centennial Museum will be serving a high tea and announcing the selection of entries in the Diamond Jubilee Art Show for Culture Days. Sip a cup and nibble some 1950s era delectables in conjunction with the exhibition “Atikokan 1952-1953: A New Queen” showing the massive changes that were underway in this northern mining town during the 50s.
Celebrate some anniversaries
With commemorations across the province marking the bicentennial of the war of 1812, the 175th anniversary of the Upper Canada Rebellion and the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee – there are many reasons to celebrate. Some museums and heritage sites are taking advantage of the public awareness around these and other historical anniversaries to attract interest in their Culture Days events.
- Example: The Pickering Museum Village is holding a “Rebellion of 1837 Living Library” where key figures (played by the Village’s Backwoods Players theatre company) from the township will tell the story of their involvement in the Rebellion and its consequences to their lives.
Doors Open Collaborations
Fifteen communities are hosting their annual Doors Open events on the same weekend as Culture Days. In some communities such as London, Mississauga and Barrie local organizers of both events are working closely to coordinate and collaborate on programming and marketing. If your community is celebrating Doors Open on September 28-30, speak with your local Doors Open organizer about how to cross-promote these events through Culture Days.
- Example: In the spring, the City of Mississauga circulated both a call for artists and cultural groups to participate in Culture Days as well as a call to architectural sites to participate in Doors Open. With these applications, the city has been able to match Culture Days activities in need of venues with Doors Open sites to create a series of event hubs throughout Mississauga. For instance, there will be a world music series at the Museums of Mississauga, a Bollywood Choir and a traditional Chinese dance at the Maja Prentice Theatre, and a trio of operatic short films screened at Mississauga Celebration Square.
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