When Museums Lose out to a Pig……



Heritage House Museum–Smiths Falls- photo–Expedia.ca


You know what’s disturbing in today’s world? When a story about a lost pig in Dalhousie Township gets way more views than a local museum parting with one of their prime time players. Heritage House Museum in Smiths Falls losing its curator Carol Miller  really upset me because everyone needs to realize that this could happen in any of your towns, any day, anytime. If we don’t do anything to stop the hemorrhaging; I can guarantee you that these local gems will slowly disappear.

Getting people inside the door is important to keep the local lights on. Sure, dinosaurs get people into the larger doors, but what about the smaller museums that showcase the inventiveness and the life stories of local individuals and events?

I admire our larger national museums, but these are not the places that teach me about the history of your Grandparents and the people who built our communities. Of course they have spectacular exhibitions and elaborate marketing– but in reality, there are limits to how big they can grow, unlike our smaller museums.  Personally, I want to involve myself in a world that lets me experience the vision of a passionate local citizen and the community these people lived in.

Long ago museums used to be similar to a men’s club and you were not allowed to ask questions or even touch in their pristine sanitary world. Now, because of grants being cut and the loss of major donations, museums have had to create a new way of thinking and exploration. The curators and their dedicated volunteers have to learn a new perspective for planning, budgeting, and organizational assessment, and they should be appreciated and supported, not have hours cut, or laid off.

They now have major challenges searching new directions and especially dealing with traditional thinking board members. New ideas to some of these folks are downright scary in part because they challenge traditional professional standards, roles, and practices. Now smaller museums have entered an era in which it is more important than ever to demonstrate that the history that built their local towns are relevant today to their communities. The traditional activities of collecting, preserving, researching, exhibiting, and interpreting are simply no longer adequate. In this day and age of social media, let’s face it– people want to be entertained.

My only argument in all of this is– that some museums need to pick up their game and really understand how huge social networking is. There could be so much attention and curiosity that a couple of million people could bring to them. Smaller museums could turn their curating into wonderful tools that would in turn encourage patronage to investigate the local ambience of the lost time from which those objects and people have come to us.

But, all of this can only come from the original sources of local and personal stories that our local museums house and protect. We need to look through the lens of the past and realize what we wouldn’t have if our local museums didn’t exist, or were even worse– were rolled into one regional museum. All of us need to seriously think about what a 911 situation this whole matter has become and do something about it today as– there might not be a tomorrow.

Small details make perfection.. But perfection is no small detail–Michelangelo

Related reading:

Smiths Falls Heritage House curator let go as a result of service review process





Come and visit the Lanark County Genealogical Society Facebook page– what’s there? Cool old photos–and lots of things interesting to read.


About lindaseccaspina

Before she laid her fingers to a keyboard, Linda was a fashion designer, and then owned the eclectic store Flash Cadilac and Savannah Devilles in Ottawa on Rideau Street from 1976-1996. She also did clothing for various media and worked on “You Can’t do that on Television”. After writing for years about things that she cared about or pissed her off on American media she finally found her calling. She is a weekly columnist for the Sherbrooke Record and documents history every single day and has over 6500 blogs about Lanark County and Ottawa and an enormous weekly readership. Linda has published six books and is in her 4th year as a town councillor for Carleton Place. She believes in community and promoting business owners because she believes she can, so she does.

4 responses »

  1. When I was touring New Zealand, we would rush to make the small town museums to learn as much as I could about a country I knew very little about. History is an important part of our present and New Zealand’s small museums were fantastic and full of huge amounts of local information.

    Liked by 1 person

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