The Alberta Museums Assocation, founded in 1971, is a non-profit society whose mission is to lead, facilitate, and support museums in their vital role with communities. The Museums Association now has more than 200 Institutional and 250 Individual Members among its membership. The Association is one of five provincial heritage organizations that receive annual funding from the Alberta Historical Resources Foundation. May 18th is International Museums Day, a day to raise awareness of the importance of museums. Be sure to visit one of your local Alberta museums to celebrate!
Museums are invaluable resources and contributors to communities; they educate, they engage, they convene, they inspire, they question, and they evolve. The Alberta Museums Association (AMA) champions the value of museums to stakeholders across the province and beyond, and works to ensure that museums create dynamic connections with their communities. We also offer a variety of programs and services, including:
- Professional development opportunities, including our Annual Conference, Certificate in Museum Studies, and other specialized learning events to increase the professionalization of the sector;
- Allocation of funding to museums and museum professionals to facilitate the completion of innovative work throughout the province, and;
- Administration of the Recognized Museum Program to help museums fulfill their public trust responsibilities and ensure their succession for the future.
These programs are extensively used and have proven valuable to members as they reinvent themselves and solidify their roles as connected, creative hubs in their communities.
This year, the International Council of Museums (ICOM)’s International Museums Day is focussed on “Hyperconnectivity: New approaches, new publics.” This theme is particularly relevant to museums across Alberta as they adapt to the changing needs of their communities by adopting new technologies, embracing the power of social media, and ensuring they are representative of the changing demographics of the world around them. Alberta’s museums represent diverse cultures, collections, industries, and subject matter, and by embracing their unique niches can increase their connectivity and work toward sustainability for the future.
Several Alberta museums who have embraced their social role as an integral piece of their mission have been recognized over the past several years through the AMA’s Robert R. Janes Award for Social Responsibility, which supports the work of museums that are addressing community issues and promoting health and well-being. Its goal is to create vibrant and sustainable communities by investing in programs that affect real social and environmental change, and which have the potential to create public benefit on a larger scale. Previous recipients have included:
- The Peace River Museum, Archives, and Mackenzie Centre, for integrating social responsibility into all aspects of museum practice, as demonstrated by its long- standing relationships with the community of Peace River and its work to engage with contemporary issues;
- The Kerry Wood Nature Centre and Historic Fort Normandeau, in recognition of their work in environmental education, sustainability, and community engagement that engage the public, instill a true appreciation of Alberta’s natural heritage, and foster an understanding of the importance of environmentally sustainable activities, and;
- Fort Edmonton Park, through the signing of its two Memoranda of Understanding with the Confederacy of Treaty Six First Nations and the Métis Nation of Alberta, serves as a model for developing an inclusive approach to partnering with First Nations and Métis communities as they work together in the spirit of reconciliation to create and deliver authentic, historically accurate, and engaging programming.
As ICOM encourages museums to “explor[e] all the connections that tie them to their communities, cultural landscape and natural environment[i]” it is fitting that the AMA has just released its 2018 Conference Program, Creating Connections: Museums and the Environment. This September, in Canmore, delegates will dive in to the role of museums in addressing climate change, adapting to changing environmental conditions, working with diverse community groups, and ensuring sustainability not only for their institutions, but for their surroundings. Delegates will examine how collections, preservation, and research can benefit from approaches that consider sustainability, and how public programs, exhibitions, and partnerships that engage with environment can broaden the museum’s impact. I invite you to check out the Conference Program and join us in the Rocky Mountains!
As we move forward in our hyper-connected world, how can we as museum champions work together with our peers in the heritage community to build a stronger, more sustainable network? I look forward to increasing those connections with and between members as we continue to adapt, reinvent ourselves, and contribute to the fabric of Alberta.
Written By: Meaghan Patterson, Executive Director/CEO, Alberta Museums Association
[i] “International Musueums Day,” International Council of Museums, accessed May 11, 2018, http://network.icom.museum/international-museum-day.