WDM hosts installations breaking from museum norms
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.
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.
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.