FROM HEATHER SAUDER of the PWSS ECOMUSEUM SUBCOMMITTEE, a report on the development of our ecomuseum so far:
An ecomuseum is the entire dynamic that happens in a landscape, including the businesses. We are all exhibits in an ecomuseum.
In March 2012, Prairie Wind & Silver Sage hosted Glenn Sutter presenting a workshop on ecomuseums as part of our AGM activities. This presentation motivated Prairie Wind & Silver Sage board members to pursue this idea further and to see how far we could incorporate it into our little museum in Val Marie. In May of that year we applied for and received funding from SaskCulture to revise our museum into an integrated exhibit of ideas, stories, and human and natural history, within a larger goal of transitioning to an ecomuseum model.
Ecomuseums are designed to share the experience of place, community, people, and their natural and cultural heritage. They provide the opportunity for communities to actively participate in developing dynamic and fluid relationships and to share and learn about their stories in their own ways.
The board of PWSS hired a consultant, Hugh Henry, from Swift Current, Saskatchewan to facilitate a brainstorming process. Hugh has many years’ experience working as a curator at the Swift Current Museum (from which he has since retired). He helped us determine what is most important and most interesting about Val Marie and area to share with visitors and the community.
There were so many aspects of Val Marie worth sharing we had to be selective for our first phase. We narrowed phase one down to the themes of landscape, wildlife, ranching, and amazing night skies.
The new museum display in the brick schoolhouse grew from these four elements together with reworking some of the previous museum exhibit content.
We intend for the museum exhibits to be updated and altered over time to continue to offer local residents and visitors something new to experience when visiting the Little Brick Schoolhouse.
The Ecomuseum concept and development owes much to the support of the Royal Saskatchewan Museum’s Glenn Sutter and Hugh Henry.
Building on phase one, we plan on further exploring the possibilities of what an ecomuseum can be and its potential role in experiencing Val Marie and Grasslands.
We intend to expand the ecomuseum beyond the walls of Prairie Wind & Silver Sage by working with both individuals and organizations in Val Marie. Our goal is to engage members of the community to express the story and history of the Val Marie area through a variety of mediums.
Stay tuned for updates on this evolving concept.
Thanks for all your support.
CONGRATULATIONS TO DR GLENN SUTTER, THE SASKATCHEWAN ECOMUSEUMS INITIATIVE, AND PRAIRIE WIND & SILVER SAGE
As a recognized Saskatchewan ecomuseum, Prairie Wind & Silver Sage is part of the Saskatchewan Ecomuseums Initiative. In November 2014, the SEI was recognized by the United Nations University as an Outstanding Flagship Project in Okayama, Japan, at a meeting of over 150 international delegates, including over 70 Regional Centers of Expertise on ESD as well as representatives from UNESCO and other UN Agencies.
The Saskatchewan Ecomuseums Initiative steering committee is chaired by Dr. Glenn Sutter, Curator of Human Ecology at the Royal Saskatchewan Museum. In October 2011, there were only a few ecomuseums in Canada and none in Saskatchewan. Dr Sutter started to explore the potential for them as part of his human ecology research program at the Royal Saskatchewan Museum (RSM). This set the stage for the SEI, a provincial research and community engagement project that has helped to increase interest in the model and establish a handful of demonstration sites.
Announcement of the award by LEAD Fellows, the Fellows newsletter of Lead, the world’s largest non-profit organization dedicated to building leadership capacity for sustainable development, included special mention of Prairie Wind & Silver Sage.
It said, “Dr Sutter’s work on this front has involved building partnerships, describing the ecomuseum model, studying the role that ecomuseums can play in sustainability education, and working with interested communities, including the village of Val Marie. Located in southwest Saskatchewan, Val Marie is one of several small communities in a sparsely populated region that includes large areas of native mixed-grass prairie and a rich ranching heritage. The first project undertaken by the Val Marie ecomuseum involved revamping an exhibit space to highlight aspects of local heritage, including local stories. They have also started an artist-in-residence program and contributed to Dr Sutter’s research on sustainability education.”
Congratulations to Dr. Glenn Sutter, to the Saskatchewan Ecomuseums Initiative and to Prairie Wind & Silver Sage!
HOMESCAPES COMMUNITY QUILT
PREVIEW HOMESCAPES ON THE BLURB WEBSITE
The quilt hanging on the PWSS foyer wall was sewn by women and men from Val Marie and area. Each block illustrates a story. Please also see the accompanying Homescapes Community Quilt book and read the story behind each square.
On the east wall of the museum, hats and their accompanying stories highlight the legacy of local ranchers.
Up to 2012, the museum exhibits were collected and presented under the artful direction of Ken Jensen. For further examples of the previous exhibits please see our albums on our Facebook page.