Trav­el­ling ex­hibits

WDM hosts in­stal­la­tions break­ing from mu­seum norms

Moose Jaw Times Herald - - COMING UP - MICHAEL JOEL-HANSEN

Moose Jaw’s Western De­vel­op­ment Mu­seum (WDM) is known for ex­hibits and dis­plays about trans­porta­tion. Right now though, the mu­seum is host­ing two ex­hibits with a dif­fer­ent vi­sion.

Kather­ine Fit­ton, man­ager of the WDM in Moose Jaw, ex­plained they are al­ways look­ing for some­thing that bucks the trend.

“We try to bring in trav­el­ling ex­hibits through­out the year … that don’t have a trans­porta­tion theme,” she said.

The two trav­el­ling dis­plays cur­rently hosted by the mu­seum are part of Canada’s 150 cel­e­bra­tions. The first is Women’s Hands Build­ing a Na­tion, made up of art pieces made out of wool and other fibers. The art is tour­ing across Canada and was put to­gether by the Chi­nook Guild of Fiber Arts in Cal­gary. This ex­hibit will be hosted un­til Jan. 29, 2018.

“It’s re­ally beau­ti­ful work,” said Fit­ton.

The Women’s Hands Build­ing a Na­tion dis­play is not only a chance to see art, but also serves as a learn­ing ex­pe­ri­ence, as many of the pieces touch on im­por­tant mile­stones for women in the coun­try’s his­tory. The works touch on women gain­ing the right to vote and en­ter­ing the work­force.

“You get a lit­tle bit of ev­ery­thing,” said Fit­ton.

The other ex­hibit the mu­seum is host­ing is the WDM’s own, draw­ing from its 75,000 ar­ti­facts that make up its col­lec­tion. The col­lec­tion was put to­gether over a six-month pe­riod. Usu­ally an ex­hibit of this size would take be­tween 12 to 18 months to put to­gether.

“It makes the rounds of Western De­vel­op­ment Museums in Saskatchewan,” Fit­ton said.

The ex­hibit is called Our Col­lec­tive Threads: Saskatchewan Peo­ple in Canada, A Trav­el­ling Ex­hibit for Canada 150. This dis­play fo­cuses on the clothes that peo­ple in Saskatchewan have worn, not only in the dis­tant past, but in the present.

“(It’s) talk­ing about ev­ery­day life,” said Fit­ton.

Liz Scott, the cu­ra­tor of the WDM, who was re­spon­si­ble for putting to­gether the Col­lec­tive Threads ex­hibit said they had a sin­gu­lar vi­sion when de­sign­ing the dis­plays.

“What we wanted to fo­cus on was Saskatchewan peo­ple’s con­tri­bu­tion to Canada,” she said.

In putting to­gether the dis­play, Scott said they made sure to keep in mind that Saskatchewan is a prov­ince with a unique his­tory.

“What this ex­hibit does is take us through a pe­riod of 12 gar­ments from our tex­tile col­lec­tion, to learn about the many di­verse iden­ti­ties in Saskatchewan,” she said.

Vis­i­tors will see ev­ery­thing from evening gowns, to clothes worn by early Chi­nese and Ukrainian set­tlers, along with gar­ments that have con­nec­tions to Indige­nous peo­ples, which had made their way into set­tler fam­i­lies.

“A great way to tell a story,” said Fit­ton.

Many phys­i­cal pieces of cloth­ing are part of the dis­play, but there are some older ar­ti­cles which are not able to be taken out of their cli­mate­con­trolled stor­age ar­eas in Saska­toon. For those pieces of cloth­ing that are too del­i­cate to be taken on tour, peo­ple can look at pho­to­graphic dis­plays with in­for­ma­tion about the gar­ments on them.

One item that Scott has re­ceived lots of pos­i­tive feed­back about is a set of work boots which date back to the 20th cen­tury and were worn by an im­mi­grant from eastern Europe.

“He was a labourer on farms, and they (the boots) came to us with farm dirt em­bed­ded on them, and we’ve left that dirt on the boats, we’ve pre­served them to the point of safety, but what they do, they evoke that re­ally strong sense of place, they lit­er­ally have the land on them,” Scott said.

“It’s a great way to show the diver­sity of peo­ple in the prov­ince,” Fit­ton added.

The hope is that vis­i­tors will leave with a deeper un­der­stand­ing of them­selves and oth­ers.

“One of the things I hope vis­i­tors ex­pe­ri­ence when they come through the ex­hibit is that they see some­thing of them­selves in the cloth­ing and they also learn some­thing new about their neigh­bours,” she said.

MICHAEL JOEL-HANSEN/TIMES-HER­ALD

Our Col­lec­tive Threads: Saskatchewan Peo­ple in Canada, A Trav­el­ling Ex­hibit for Canada 150, has among its dis­plays a vest which has roots from one of Saskatchewan’s Indige­nous com­mu­ni­ties.

MICHAEL JOEL-HANSEN/TIMES-HER­ALD

Our Col­lec­tive Threads: Saskatchewan Peo­ple in Canada, A Trav­el­ling Ex­hibit for Canada 150, has cloth­ing that is much more re­cent in ori­gin, such as this short-sleeve shirt.

MICHAEL JOEL-HANSEN/TIMES-HER­ALD

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