A ‘Nat­u­ral’ Se­lec­tion

Stanstead Journal - - FRONT PAGE - Vic­to­ria Vanier, Stanstead

The Stanstead His­tor­i­cal So­ci­ety has found its new Di­rec­tor/Cu­ra­tor of the Colby-Cur­tis Mu­seum: an en­thu­si­as­tic North Hat­ley na­tive who brings a ‘world’ of ex­pe­ri­ence to the po­si­tion. Chloë Southam has stud­ied and worked in the fields of

Art and Muse­ol­ogy in sev­eral coun­tries, af­ter first get­ting a Lib­eral Arts de­gree at Cham­plain Col­lege and an Art His­tory de­gree from Con­cor­dia Univer­sity.

“It was af­ter work­ing as a guide at the Musee des Beaux Arts (Mon­treal) that I de­cided I wanted to work in the mu­seum world,” said Ms. Southam who then went to Hol­land to get a Mas­ter’s De­gree in Muse­ol­ogy. “I wanted to be with in­ter­na­tional stu­dents, to learn how mu­se­ums work in dif­fer­ent coun­tries. I had trav­elled a lot when I was young, so I be­came re­ally in­ter­ested in other cul­tures and very cu­ri­ous to dis­cover more. It was re­ally good to study there, in Hol­land, but I’m happy to be able to ap­ply what I know here in the Eastern Town­ships.”

Ms. Southam had just re­turned from spend­ing two years in Mex­ico, learn­ing Span­ish then study­ing to­wards a grad­u­ate diploma in Cu­rat­ing and Mu­seum Man­age­ment from Casa Lamm, when she saw the Colby- Cur­tis po­si­tion ad­ver­tised. “I had de­cided to come back to do some­thing more con­sis­tent. I’m glad to be here be­cause I’m very fa­mil­iar with the area, the coun­ties, and I like the her­itage of the re­gion.”

Be­sides her first­hand ex­pe­ri­ence grow­ing up in the area, Ms. Southam also dis­cov­ered a lot about the Eastern Town­ships when she guest-cu­rated a sum­mer ex­hi­bi­tion, fea­tur­ing her home­town of North Hat­ley, for the Stanstead His­tor­i­cal So­ci­ety. “It was an ex­hi­bi­tion about the peo­ple liv­ing in North Hat­ley and the Amer­i­cans who came up to spend their sum­mers there; there are still many ves­tiges of that time. What I found re­ally in­ter­est­ing was in­ter­view­ing lo­cals about the past for the pro­ject.”

Bring­ing the his­tory of the re­gion to the area’s chil­dren is some­thing Ms. Southam is ea­ger about. “Two years ago, the Stanstead/ Hat­ley Women’s In­sti­tute do­nated the Mansur one­room school­house to the Stanstead His­tor­i­cal So­ci­ety,” said Ms. Southam who has pre­vi­ous ex­pe­ri­ence de­vel­op­ing ed­u­ca­tional ac­tiv­i­ties for chil­dren with the Up­lands Mu­seum, in Len­noxville. “I’d like to work with the lo­cal schools, to re­ally de­velop a pro­gram. I think it’s im­por­tant to reach out to dif­fer­ent gen­er­a­tions and I’m con­vinced there are ways to get chil­dren in­ter­ested in lo­cal his­tory,” she con­tin­ued.

An­other ‘idea in progress’ would have the mu­seum shed­ding some light on the his­tory south of the line. “I’d also like to have more con­tact with the mu­se­ums on the other side of the bor­der.”

Al­though new to the job, Ms. Southam knows what a re­source the lo­cal com­mu­nity is for the Mu­seum. “Some peo­ple are re­ally pas­sion­ate about the area and the lo­cal his­tory. We’re open to re­ceive sug­ges­tions from the com­mu­nity, and in hav­ing part­ner­ships, col­lab­o­ra­tions. The Mu­seum is for ev­ery­one; it’s re­ally a part of the com­mu­nity and it’s im­por­tant to re­spond to the needs and in­ter­ests of the com­mu­nity.”

“I’m look­ing for­ward to reach­ing out to ac­cess a wider pub­lic, to have more in­ter­gen­er­a­tional ac­tiv­i­ties. I have to get to know the col­lec­tion, and think of new exhibitions. We’re now re­vis­ing the three-year plan and that’s very ex­cit­ing for me.”

Mu­seum vis­i­tors have un­til the end of Oc­to­ber to see Or­ford MNA Pierre Reid’s coin ex­hibit, cu­rated by the Mu­seum’s for­mer Cu­ra­tor, Pierre Ras­toul. “The coins in the col­lec­tion go back to An­tiq­uity,” said the Di­rec­tor as we toured the in­struc­tive ex­hibit. Along with the well-re­searched texts that ac­com­pany the col­lec­tion, ex­plain­ing the be­gin­nings and evo­lu­tion of coin cur­ren­cies, en­larged pho­tos of the coins, taken by Mr. Reid, re­veal fas­ci­nat­ing de­tails on the coins of­ten too dif­fi­cult to ap­pre­ci­ate with the naked eye. The Print Mak­ing ex­hi­bi­tion at the mu­seum will con­tinue un­til the end of the fall.

Tea is served daily, from Mon­day to Fri­day, in the Mu­seum’s so­lar­ium, and lunch is also avail­able but must be re­served ahead of time. “We have all of our usual out­reach ac­tiv­i­ties com­ing up, like the ap­ple fes­ti­val, Hal­loween, and story-telling be­fore the Christ­mas hol­i­days. We’ll also be plan­ning some­thing to take place at the Mansur school­house next May or June,” said Ms. Southam.

“We’re al­ways look­ing for more vol­un­teers at the Mu­seum. They can help in ar­eas based on their in­ter­ests: do­ing re­search with Kathy Cur­tis in the ar­chives; be­ing a tour guide; help­ing in the Tea Room. We’re also look­ing for vol­un­teers to help us with our out­reach ac­tiv­i­ties,” she added.

For more in­for­ma­tion about the Mu­seum or about vol­un­teer­ing, call 819 8767322.

Photo Vic­to­ria Vanier

Photo Vic­to­ria Vanier

Chloë Southam, seen here in the sit­ting room of Car­roll­croft, is the new Di­rec­tor/Cu­ra­tor of the Colby-Cur­tis Mu­seum.

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