DO’S FOR SMALL COMMUNITY MUSEUMS
1. Do nurture your volunteers. They are priceless (i.e., irreplaceable AND unpaid).
2. Do some marketing of your treasures. Do it professionally (even if you can’t afford a professional. There’s always a volunteer who can do a first-rate job).
3. Post directional signs all over town, and I do mean at every turn in the road.
4. Post a prominent sign ON the museum (Some buildings do not look like museums).
5. On the door, post a list of volunteers that visitors can contact.
6. When you hire a seasonal employee, train that person. Give the trainee daily tasks that will contribute to the visitor experience (e.g., read a history book; research an artifact; interview an old-timer; compose a newsletter). Give him or her information to memorize,
daily, followed by a quiz. Keep score. Reward success.
7. Institute an educational program for local people. Every single resident must know where the museum is, when it is open, which volunteers to contact when it isn’t open, and
know, even if only in a very general way, what the museum’s mandate is. Every year a few selected citizens should be dragged into the facility and incarcerated for half an hour. But,
confiscate their cell phones first.
8. Think about this: the only compelling reason for the vast majority of passers-by to stop at your community is the fact that you have a museum or historic site. Think about this constantly.
9. Monitor the directional signage as well as the interpretive signage for historic sites in your area. Then, identify the parties responsible, provide advice, and follow up. You have
to. You. Who else will do it?
10. Do vote for and do support politicians at all levels of government who support the museum’s mandate. Keep score. Reward success.
You can soon download this list from my website at www.whiskyjackpublishing.ca.
Distribute as you see fit.
So, there you have it – our trip into the North-West Territories, now temporarily named Manitoba and Saskatchewan.
You know where Loon Lake is. It’s in your backyard. It’s a place near you, probably by another name, maybe Makwa or something.
It did not surprise me the other day when I got a call from Loon Lake. Loon Lake, Ontario. Near Thunder Bay, where she was visiting. This lady said she was
reading The Beardmore Relics, and wanted to talk to me about them – the real Beardmore Relics. She had a family connection.
I invited her to drop in. Joanne turns out to be the granddaughter of J.M. Hansen, the man who upset Eddie Dodd’s train ride to fame.
As the Beardmore Relics became big news in the late 1930s, J.M. Hansen stepped forward. He had rented a house to Eddie Dodd, he said, and in the cellar of that
house he had stored certain Viking artifacts. The relics had disappeared. He
suspected, he said, that the relics the Royal Ontario Museum had bought from
Dodd were those very artifacts.
Joanne has family stories about her grandfather and those relics. We will be starting a correspondence. J.M. Hansen built the cabin at Loon Lake where she was vacationing this summer.
So . . . look into your own Loon Lake. You have to know about it. Let me emphasize that – you HAVE to know about it. It’s tied into your country’s history, and, if you’re astute enough, you’ll see that it’s linked to your family’s history.
Now you have a mission. Let everybody know about YOUR Loon Lake, whatever its name. Start enlisting volunteers – teachers, librarians, farmers, loggers, lovers – anyone who cares.
There are a lot of us loonies out there.