In response to the community’s request to see more of the artifacts stored at the Galt Museum & Archives on public display, Curator Wendy Aitkens invited community members to visit the storage areas and work with staff and volunteers to find favourite artifacts for inclusion in the special exhibit Treasures & Curiosities, opening Saturday, February 20. The result is an eclectic selection of 200 artifacts with amazing stories!
The Galt’s Cultural History Collection reflects stories of commerce, immigration, education, community services, religion, transportation, military service, diversity and the personal lives of individuals who chose to live in southwestern Alberta.
A sample of the treasures on the Galt's artifact storage shelves include the 1951 World Cup Trophy won by the Lethbridge Maple Leafs, a Japanese bath or ofuro, and Anne Campbell’s grand piano, to name just a few. Curiosities abound on those shelves too: an odd looking set of nurse and doctor dolls, a Humpty Dumpty circus set complete with tent, clowns and animals, a deer-legged tea table and home perm hair curlers.
“There is intrigue in the vaults of a museum,” says Aitkens. “The fascination of historic objects is one of the foundations for museum collections. Objects make us wonder… "Who made this? Where was it made and used? What stories are there about the people associated with the object? Are the stories happy or sad, inspiring or confusing?"
The stories of why the artifacts were chosen are integral to this exhibit, and will be highlighted in the artifact labels. Reasons range from picking the oldest object in the collections known to have been made by a woman, to recognizing the contributions made to the community by relatives. There is the table and chair set from the Miners Library to honour area coalminers; a cassock and surplice reminiscent of what Father Leonard Van Tighem, Lethbridge’s first resident Catholic priest, would have worn; a mallet and bone chisel in memory of becoming a nurse at the Galt School of Nursing; and a beaded bag chosen in honour of the people who honoured the Lethbridge College President with a Blackfoot name. A number of these stories will also be available on audio wands available at the front desk during the run of the exhibit.