By J.W. Schnarr
Westwind Weekly News
The Magrath Museum expansion and an increase in requested funding were part of a presentation made to council by the Magrath Museum Association recently.
During council’s regular meeting on Nov. 8, members of the association made the request and presentation as part of regular updates to council.
Wes Balderson, president of the Magrath Museum Association, said the association was appreciative of the ongoing support of the museum by the town. Funding from the municipality in recent years went to operating expenses and assistance with hiring summer students that act as tour guides. The town has also taken care up maintenance such as mowing and snow removal. Support has gone beyond money, however.
“We know there has been a lot of informal support that we appreciate,” he said.
The association has requested an increase of the town’s annual grant to $15,000 in order to help cover the cost of utilities in the new building and to continue to assist with hiring summer students. Additionally, the association requested continued assistance with maintenance, assistance with an underground sprinkler system once landscaping in the new space has been completed, and a request to pave the boulevard in front of the new building to provide additional parking spaces.
This past year, the museum saw an estimated 1,800 visitors. Construction of the outside of the Agriculture Heritage building was completed, while funding for the completion of the inside of the building has been secured. A plan has also been developed in regards to landscaping the museum property.
“The displays we are going to highlight are the great industries that have been instrumental in developing this community, as well as southern Alberta,” said Balderson.
A number of displays are planned for the inside of the building, including displays exploring the history of the grain industry, cattle industry, sheep and wool industry, irrigation, special crops, and a number of ideas for additional displays, including highlighting barns in the Magrath area and cultural pioneers in the area.
The displays could include a TV monitor showing historical films on the highlighted subject, interactive iPad displays, display cases to display smaller artifacts, story boards to share local histories, historical photos, and replicas of important items, such as grain elevators.
A number of artifacts have been secured for outside displays as well, including a stationary threshing machine, a manure spreader, slip scrape, sheepwagon, potato planter, ditcher, plow, hay rake, and hay mower.
Additionally, the association has developed a number of local programs and events intended to increase awareness of Magrath’s history in a family-friendly atmosphere.
Past president Alan Dudley said it is important that the community have the museum, and especially important to provide the opportunity for learning for young people.
“If we don’t educate the youth on where we’ve been, and why we’re here, and what it took to get where we are, we’re missing the boat,” he said. “All of that will be lost, and there will be lessons that are lost.”