Tuesday, 25 January 2011

Get to know a city committee: The Museums Board

City Hall - Council Building
The bloated, surly elephant on the city hall schedule this week is, of course, city council on Wednesday. Here's the agenda, use the top-left box to navigate.

There is one other wee meeting that didn't make that version of the schedule and I thought I would give the committee a little plug (and maybe do this on a regular basis). Before you feel sleepy and decide to surf off and check out something more interesting, like perhaps a wheel of cheese ripening, this is an important committee.

Fire Fighters Museum  of Winnipeg

City of Winnipeg Museums Board

RESPONSIBILITY: "... implement(ing) the City’s Heritage Preservation Policy (to ensure the ongoing preservation and coordination of Winnipeg’s museum resources and assets) and to audit the ongoing operations of the museums that receive grant funds and in-kind services from the City".

IN OTHER WORDS: It doles out the approximately $1m in city museum funding and has a modest operating budget of less than $75k for a support staff and the printing and distribution of an information pamphlet on our museums and advertising in places like the Leisure Guide.

MAKE-UP: Eight members. A five-member citizen board, outgoing chair is Diane Haglund, archivist with the University of Winnipeg. Other citizen members: DeLloyd J. Guth; Maureen Krauss; Daniel Orlikow and Judy Wakefield. There are also three non-voting members of the city administration.


- It's a new-ish committee, created in 2007

- In 2010 the city distributed the $1m to thirteen museums to fund operational costs: Barber House; Dalnavert; Fire Fighters Museum; Grants Old Mill; Historical Museum of St. James-Assiniboia; Manitoba Children’s Museum; The Manitoba Museum; Le Musée de Saint-Boniface Museum; Oseredok Ukrainian Cultural and Educational Centre; Ross House; Transcona Historical Museum; Seven Oaks House Museum and the Western Canada Aviation Museum.

NEXT MEETING: Tuesday, January 25th at Noon in the North Committee Room of city hall. (Agenda).

Winnipeg Police Museum


The city is a pretty big player in the history filed, more so than I thought.

Add to the million in funding to museums, there is i
n-kind costs for places like the Winnipeg Police Museum, located inside the city police training facility, and Manitoba Transit Heritage folk who store their buses at the Transit garage on Osborne. PLUS the funding of groups that don't fall under this committee's banner like the city's Historic Buildings Committee, City Archives department and outside groups like Heritage Winnipeg.

Minto Armouries
Of course these 13 funded by the city aces and collections others out there not on the list. They are dedicated to dedicated to the utilities, sports, businesses, regions of the city, aboriginal groups, cultural groups, military regiments etc. that all make up part of our city's history.

London Transport Museum
I've blogged a few times in the past about Winnipeg's less than stellar job of maintaining and promoting our urban past. In A City's Transportation Heritage I take a look at London's newly revamped Transportation Museum and how it really tells a lot of the story of London's development. In Winnipeg's Urban Past I look at some of our existing museums that have fabulous collections but neither the space to display them or the proper storage to protect them.

I'd one day love to see the city really get behind a 'Winnipeg Museum' (the old airport would have been a great place for one). I don't necessarily mean a 'new museum' that would cherry pick the 'gems' of existing collections leaving groups without them, but perhaps a revolving showpiece centre that could act as a starting off point to visit these places in more detail. A giant sized version of what the city does with the front cabinets at the library.

Considering it's taken a decade or so to get the zoo redevelopment process off the ground, I know that it would take probably twice that long to get people serious about a museum for urban Winnipeg. Still, at least having a museum board in place could one day be a jumping off point for discussion.

Directory of Manitoba Museums AMM


One Man Committee said...

Interesting post! You have exponentially increased my knowledge of the Museums board. I have two points to add:

1) It seems odd that there is a board whose purpose is essentially to dole out a relatively paltry $1,000,000 of funding. Is there a reason that these decisions can't be made with the pre-existing committee apparatus (e.g. Protection and Community Services Committee)? Unless there is some real benefit to this, I think I'd rather see PCSC have authority over museum funding and add the $75,000 savings to museum funding.

2) I agree wholeheartedly about a City Museum. I've been to a good number of these around the world and I always enjoy the insight they provide into a city. Some of them are remarkably big and flashy (Chicago's comes to mind) while others can be small - but a well-curated museum can be good even if it's tiny. It would be a perfect fit for a smallish heritage building.

Christian Cassidy said...

as for 1. I did read back in the committee docs why this was created in 2007 and it did have to do with the fact that money was being paid out across a number of committees for museum funding and this would bring the expenditures under one group.