May 10, 2021
This past year has been a challenging time for the community and for the Wallaceburg Museum. The constant closures and restrictions have waylaid any fundraising efforts that are needed to help maintain and improve such an old and treasured asset to the community as our Museum is. With the help of our staff, volunteers and directors, we continue to make repairs and clean the exhibits and public spaces in preparation of our eventual opening. The restrictions have also made it necessary to reduce the hours of our staff members and limit our numbers in the building.
Another major challenge that we faced is the changing of the executive directors and resignation of several of our long-term board members at the beginning of this year. This has been a period of adjustment and learning for myself, as well as the other existing board members and some welcome new faces that have joined our group. The executive members temporarily in place are Myself, Henry Van Haren as interim President and Bob DeKoning as Interim Vice President. We will be without a formal Secretary and Treasurer until elections can take place at our AGM in July. Until then, these duties will be carried on by Holly DeMarco with assistance from our other directors and volunteers.
The Museum will be sending out a Community Survey with hopes of getting feedback on what the public would like to see or do at the Museum or what events or programs should be offered. Please fill In the survey and return to the Museum. We also have openings for volunteers to help with various programs and projects. If you or someone you know may be interested in volunteering, please call Holly at 519-627-8962.
Our staff, directors and volunteers also continue to work on future fundraising ideas and activities that will entice people of all ages to visit the Museum. A few of these projects are underway, such as adding audio boxes to several of our displays and making improvements to our public research center with a new computer, overhead scanner and printer. An ongoing effort will make accessing our old documents, newspapers, maps and posters easier as well as protect the fragile documents from overuse. Some of our future plans include:
• Add video slideshow or short story to several of our exhibits.
• Improvements to the parkette which will allow more opportunities to rent out this space for family functions and community events.
• Renovating the area known as the Dungeon to convert it into a proper area for archival storage of our documents once they have been digitized.
• Upgrade the heating/ cooling system in the research and storage building. Storage areas in this building are currently unheated.
• Improvements to the Sports Hall of Fame area.
• Create plans to solve our shortage of washroom stalls for the Von Ayres Cultural Center.
These are lofty and costly goals which hopefully will take place over the next 4 years. We will be looking for grants to help fund these improvements but will also look to the generosity of the community and businesses that we serve. You can help by purchasing a membership to the Museum or by making a donation to help our projects along. We have been planning a membership campaign with an open house in the parkette where you can enjoy drinks and snacks and find out the benefits of being a Museum member. This has been set for June 19 but will depend on the covid status at the time. If you have visited and enjoyed our museum in the past, please stop in again, when restrictions permit, to see our changes. Also pass the word to friends and neighbors that we have such a gem in our community. We hear too often the phrase “I didn’t even know there was a Museum in Wallaceburg”. Let’s try to change that.
Our staff and members take great pride in providing this community with a place for them to dive into their past and see what life was like generations ago. Whether you are looking into your own family history or broaden your knowledge of local history, this is the place to find it. We hope to see all of you soon, once we are able to safely reopen to the public.
Henry Van Haren
Wallaceburg & District Museum