Filtering by: Special Exhibit
Worlds Imagined: The Maps of Imaginary Places Collections
to Jan 5

Worlds Imagined: The Maps of Imaginary Places Collections

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Created by the Cushing Memorial Library & Archives at Texas A&M University, Worlds Imagined invites visitors of all ages to explore the intersections between maps, fantasy literature and popular culture.

While maps are a representation of place, they also have the power to fire the imagination, promising adventure and introducing us to new lands. Of course, not all maps show places that exist, or ever have existed anywhere on Earth. From maps of J.R.R. Tolkien’s legendary Middle-earth, to the Marauder’s Map from Harry Potter’s universe, explore a variety of imaginary worlds from literature, games, film and other media. Worlds Imagined will also present opportunities for visitors to play with their own creativity through hands-on activities.

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A Painter's Paradise: Michael Pisko and Ernest Riethman
to May 10

A Painter's Paradise: Michael Pisko and Ernest Riethman

  • Galt Museum & Archives (map)
  • Google Calendar ICS

A Painter’s Paradise focuses on the life and art of local artists Michael Pisko and Ernest Riethman. Early members of the Lethbridge Sketch Club, their enthusiasm for their home left a legacy of wonderful paintings. Pisko and Riethman’s subject was generally landscape but depicted in two very different styles in which vivid impressions were created about Lethbridge, southwestern Alberta and the Rockies. Active from the 1930s on, the exhibition explores the relationship each artist had with the Lethbridge community as well their connections to major Canadian painters in cultivating a strong landscape tradition for the region.

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Places and Traces: Our Neighbourhoods
to Sep 6

Places and Traces: Our Neighbourhoods

  • Galt Museum & Archives (map)
  • Google Calendar ICS

This is the story of Lethbridge as a community: how we see and identify our neighbourhoods, and how those places help define us. Delving into the histories of Chinatown, Hardieville, Glendale-Dieppe and everything in between, the exhibit contrasts “official” narratives with residents’ lived experience. This collaboration between the Galt and the Lethbridge Historical Society brings you some of the lesser-known stories in our city’s development, and some unexpected, surprising ways in which residents have shaped the places where they live.

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Recollecting Home
to May 5

Recollecting Home

What do a 1930s guitar, a mid-century silk wedding gown, and a hundred year old soccer ball have in common? Aside from sharing space in the Galt Museum’s collections vaults, these objects were all chosen for this exhibit by members of the community because they reminded them of home.

Recollecting Home explores the idea of “home” through individuals’ connections to objects. Alongside a range of personal memories of childhood and family, this exhibit will also present artwork by Kainai youth that reflects Blackfoot perspectives of home.

We invite you to immerse yourself in the nostalgia of familiar household sounds, smells and objects, while considering the more complex connections we have with people and places. Discover a range of voices that reflect the diversity of southwestern Alberta, and consider what home means to you.

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to Jan 6

Decoding E-Money

It's in your gift cards and maybe even your transit pass. It's starting to appear on your phone. How far is it going to go?

Decoding E-Money is a travelling exhibition from the Bank of Canada Museum that explores the past, present and future of electronic money and electronic payment systems. While raising awareness of e-money, this exhibition also helps visitors understand the possible effects of the widespread use of one form of e-money: digital currency.

“We have brought this travelling exhibit to Lethbridge with the hope to broaden the understanding of digital currencies,” says Galt Museum & Archives’ Curator Aimee Benoit, “by inviting users to experience this exhibition through a fun and compelling hands-on context.”

Decoding E-money explores the voyage of your dollars from purchase to deposit through various traditional and e-payment systems. Learn about a whole new kind of money as cutting-edge graphics and fun, interactive displays introduce you to the high-tech intricacies of Bitcoin and other web-based currencies. Explore more than 60 artifacts covering the way Canadians have spent their money over the course of 200 years. From trading tokens to the most recent precursors of today’s e-money, these artifacts at one time challenged our notions of acceptance much the way that Bitcoin challenges us today.

The exhibit includes games that help players experiment with and understand more deeply the philosophies and principles behind various e-money transaction tools from credit and debit cards, to cryptocurrencies and blockchain. One of the aspects that games will underline is the intense competition involved in verifying and completing digital transactions so they become permanent and unchangeably embedded in a public transaction record. The technology that enables this form of decentralized currency has the potential to bring fundamental change to existing financial systems and is of great interest to the Bank of Canada and other central banks.

Decoding E-Money is a timely exhibition that explores a function of modern society that is becoming ever more prevalent in our everyday lives.” Says Benoit “We’re excited to explore this topic with our community.”

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Cinescapes: Movies in Southwestern Alberta
to Sep 3

Cinescapes: Movies in Southwestern Alberta

Curated by Aimee Benoit

Discover southwestern Alberta on the silver screen! Since the early twentieth century, filmmakers have been drawn to the region’s magnificent snow-capped mountains, expansive fields of wheat and historic main streets. Southwestern Alberta has served as a “stunt double” for many other places, but has also occasionally been the feature of big-screen productions.

Cinescapes invites visitors to explore the history of movie entertainment, from production to exhibition, as movies evolved from a side-show novelty into one of the most popular forms of mass entertainment. The exhibit showcases artifacts from the local commercial and independent film industry, examples of cinema technologies, a feature on Lethbridge’s “picture palaces” through the twentieth century, and hands-on activities that engage visitors of all ages in some of the mysteries of movie-making.

Exhibit Themes

Lethbridge’s Picture Palaces

Touring vaudeville shows gave local audiences their first thrill of moving pictures, when short films were added to variety programs; However, feature films were soon the leading attraction. In 1906, the Bijou became the first regular movie theatre in Lethbridge and by 1920 movies had gone from sideshow novelty to mass entertainment. This section invites visitors on a nostalgic stroll through the golden age of picture palaces in Lethbridge, right up to the more recent multiplexes.

And Action!

Movie-making is a collaborative venture that draws on the expertise of performers, technicians and artisans—from scriptwriters and directors, to camera operators and special effects artists. Performers and filmmakers from southwestern Alberta have gone on to fame and fortune, while also cultivating strong independent and amateur traditions at home. This section explores a few of the many individuals making an impact in the film industry today.

On the Set

Discover southwestern Alberta on the silver screen! Since the early twentieth century, filmmakers have been drawn to the region’s magnificent snow-capped mountains, expansive fields of wheat, and historic main streets. Southwestern Alberta has been called the world’s “stunt double”—standing in for locations around the world, and occasionally playing itself on the silver screen. This section explores filming locations, and highlights objects used in the filming of movies made right here at home.

From Movies to Talkies

Silent pictures dominated the movie industry until the introduction of “talkies” after 1927. Colour technology, Cinemascope, Dolby surround sound and other innovations have continuously improved the quality of movie exhibition. This section explores some of the significant technological changes in cinema history, most recently the rise of digital cinema projection after 2000. –

Show Business

As moving pictures matured into mainstream entertainment, they became big business. Local theatre managers used billboards and newspapers to advertise upcoming shows, even offering personal endorsements to assure audiences that they offered wholesome and cultured entertainment. This section showcases advertisements, press books and posters used by local theatre managers.

The Future of Movie-going

The digital revolution has flooded the market with new entertainment options, yet movies continually innovate to keep people coming back. This final section invites visitors to share their personal memories of movie-going, and to reflect on the future of movie entertainment.

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Rise and Fall of Emilio Picariello
to Jan 7

Rise and Fall of Emilio Picariello

Travelling exhibit from the Whyte Museum.

Immigrant, father, entrepreneur, town councillor, and bootlegger. Emilio Picariello remains one of the enigmatic personalities of his times, capturing the imaginations of Canadians today almost as much as he did during his sensational murder trial and death by hanging ninety years ago.

The Rise and Fall of Emilio Picariello, a travelling exhibit from the Fernie Museum, provides a new interpretation of the 1923 arrest and execution of Emilio Picariello and Florence Lassandro. See what Adriana A. Davies, the exhibit’s curator, discovered when she asked the question, “What if they were innocent of the murder, as they had claimed, and if they were wrongfully found guilty?”

This exhibit traces the rise of Picariello from a young Italian immigrant, to a shrewd and successful businessman, to his fall and eventual death as one of Can

ada’s most infamous bootleggers. “This story will be familiar to many people in southwestern Alberta,” says Galt Curator Aimee Benoit, “but visitors will come away with a more complex understanding of Picariello, and the social context in which his story took place.” Dr. Adriana Davies will be the guest speaker at the official exhibit opening from 2 to 3 pm. Media are invited to meet with Dr. Davies and to preview the exhibit before the event, at 1 pm.

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to Sep 9

Water in a Dry Land

Water: it is essential to life and to our way of life in southern Alberta. But where does our water come from? What is the story of its journey from the Rocky Mountains, through the foothills, prairies and downstream?

The Oldman watershed was shaped by glacial ice that melted between 12,000 and 15,000 years ago. It is the traditional home of the Blackfoot people, and supports diverse plants and wildlife that have adapted to the extremes of the mountains and semi-arid plains.

Since the late nineteenth century, the Oldman River and its tributaries have sustained the growth of industries, agriculture, recreation and thriving settlements. But all of these uses impact the ecosystem and our future water security.

Water in a Dry Land traces the history of intersecting water uses in the Oldman watershed and the central role of water in the development of local communities. It celebrates our relationship with water and strengthens our understanding of this precious resource in a region where water is sometimes taken for granted. With contributions from water experts in the community, the exhibit brings together stories, artifacts and archival materials from the Galt Museum & Archives collections and a variety of interactive components to encourage visitors to think about how we all play a part in the future of water in southwestern Alberta.

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to Apr 30

Pianos to Power Chords

Guest curated by Tyler Stewart

This exhibition looks at how music has helped to bring our community together over the past century. Guest curator Tyler Stewart has knowledge, passion and a network which he has brought together with rich artifacts and stories from the Galt collections. “From Pianos to Power Chords” shines a spotlight on some of the individuals from southwestern Alberta who have influenced our music history.

Visitors will learn more about people such as Anne Campbell, who created an all-girls choir that toured across Canada and overseas; her grand piano will be on exhibit. Visitors will also get to appreciate more contemporary award-winning musical figures like Corb Lund and Leeroy Stagger.

Development of this exhibit involved over 100 community members who contributed to the content through surveys, interviews and social media engagement. Those memories also helped create the one-of-a-kind, “band map” hand-lettered by local artist Eric Dyck that illustrates the diverse interpersonal connections in Lethbridge’s local music scene.

The content of this exhibit creates a diverse story of the history of music in southwestern Alberta. “This is an important exhibit for the Galt Museum, as this community has a very long, vibrant, and diverse musical history”, says Galt Museum & Archives Curator, Aimee Benoit.

There are also several interactive components at listening stations that visitors of all ages will enjoy. People will really connect with and have fun with this exhibit, From Pianos to Power Chords.

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to Jan 15

Kids Celebrate!

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A travelling exhibit from the Canadian Museum of History

The exhibit invites children ages 5 to 12 to learn about the many celebrations that are practiced in their own communities. Although unique to a particular country, culture or religion, celebrations bring families and communities together. From large groups of people gathering for a day of festivities to a special moment in a child’s everyday life, it is through these joyous and important occasions that children and families discover and appreciate the traditions of diverse cultures.

Everyone loves a special occasion — be it Thanksgiving, the Chinese New Year, the Jewish celebration Hanukkah, Toonik Tyme in Iqaluit or Canada Day — what better way to appreciate the diversity of celebrations in Canada than through Kids Celebrate!. The exhibition is divided into four zones, each evoking a different season, family and community setting. Children can learn more about the many celebrations that Canadians enjoy throughout the year – from food, music, decorations and games, to the values of giving, sharing and hope for the future.

Thanks in part to financial support for Canadian Heritage, Lethbridge children and their families will feel a sense of connection to other Canadian families and communities as they identify differences and similarities among traditions, and will come to understand the global nature of celebrating. Young visitors will engage in hands-on activities, discover new games, make crafts, and take on new roles that will stimulate their curiosity and motivate them to explore the many aspects of celebrations in Canada.

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to Sep 5

Annora Brown: Daughter of the Prairies

Welcome to the new and interactive exhibit developed in collaboration with community partners at the Galt Museum & Archives “Annora Brown: Daughter of the Prairies”. With the knowledge and skill of guest curator Mary-Beth Laviolette, the Galt Museum & Archives presents the first-ever retrospective of one of Alberta’s most significant early artists, Annora Brown (1899-1987) of Fort Macleod. The exhibition will feature some of her most well-known artworks as well as rarely seen paintings treasured by friends and admirers of this remarkable artist.

Brown is best known for her paintings and drawings of wildflowers and native plants of southern Alberta and as the author of the western Canadian classic “Old Man’s Garden”, published in 1955. As a modern artist, she was engaged with the character of the wildflower and its place in the natural environment. Brown also explored southwestern Alberta and captured the land in colourful and often dramatic landscapes. Her fascination with First Nations people is expressed through many engaging paintings.

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to May 23

We are Here to Serve: Fire & EMS


Lethbridge has had an active firefighting service since a volunteer fire brigade started in 1886.  A full time fire department was established in 1909 and it has grown into a fully modern force. Emergency medical care, in the early years of the city, was provided by available doctors and nurses and the Galt Hospital ambulance.  In 1912, Lethbridge fire department took over the operation of the ambulance, provided trained personnel, and this was the beginning of the city’s integrated fire and emergency medical service.

The exhibit will tell the history of the Lethbridge Fire and Emergency Service from its earliest days to today through stories, photographs, and artifacts.

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to Jan 17

Changing Places: Immigration & Diversity

When people emigrate from one country to another they physically change places. This also means that their new home will change because of their presence.

The Galt exhibition will gather personal stories from immigrants who left their home country between the end of the Second World War up to very recently to discover why they chose or were forced to leave their home country. Interviewers will also talk to long time residents of Lethbridge who are involved with immigrant communities. We will explore how they have seen Lethbridge change due to the influx of people from other coun­tries around the world.

The Galt will borrow objects and photographs from both immigrants and locals to learn from their experiences. As we explore the challenges, fears and hopes of new immigrants we gain an appreciation of the support and services offered by Lethbridge and southwestern Alberta to help new people settle and become successful in this area.

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to Oct 12

A Legacy of Adventure and Art: Miss Edith Fanny Kirk

It started with a treasure box and a personal connection to a fellow artist, and now the result of more than six years of research and sleuthing by Galt Museum & Archives Curator Wendy Aitkens comes to life when the exhibition “A Legacy of Adventure & Art: The Life of Miss Edith Fanny Kirk” opens at the Galt on Saturday, June 6.

“Miss Edith Fanny Kirk, who was born in England in 1858 and lived in Lethbridge for the last 35 years of her life, painted watercolours of Lethbridge, the prairies and western National Parks, and taught many people how to create their own art,” says Aitkens. “After all, Miss Kirk had been trained in several of the most prestigious art schools in her home country.”

Miss Edith Fanny Kirk was a woman of adventure and courage who, at an early age, decided to become an artist and art teacher. For years she studied at prestigious art schools in England and France. Her need to create watercolour art encouraged Miss Kirk to attend artists’ colonies where she painted watercolour landscape and village scenes as she sat outdoors. Then, in 1905, Miss Kirk immigrated to Canada where she continued her travels and her art.

“Prior to coming to this city,” explains Aitkens, “Miss Kirk experienced travel and adventures in many intriguing places in British Columbia and along the eastern seaboard of North America. She worked mainly as an artist and art teacher during her long life, but also as a nurse’s helper in a gold mining hospital, and as a public school teacher in B.C.’s ranching country. Once she settled in Lethbridge, she continued her adventures by joining the Alpine Club of Canada at the age of 60.”

The exhibition explores the adventurous life of Miss Edith Kirk through treasures she received from her mother and those she gathered throughout her own life. Examples of her watercolour paintings, art created by one of her English teachers and a fellow student, and paintings by some of her local students are also featured. An audio tour of the Curator’s adventures in tracking Miss Kirk’s life is an integral part of the exhibition, offering an intimate glimpse into the personal connections Aitkens made with Miss Edith Kirk.

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to May 18

Voices from the Engraver

A travelling exhibit from the Bank of Canada Museum

From concept to final product, experience the creative process, the technical skill and the sheer artistry that underlies every series of Canadian stamps and bank notes in Voices from the Engraver— a traveling bilingual exhibit produced by the Bank of Canada Museum in partnership with the Canadian Museum of History. The exhibit makes its Canadian debut at the Galt Museum & Archives on February 7, with a grand opening planned for Sunday, February 8 at 2:00 pm.

Original art, printing plates, videos, interactives, rare stamps, and money - lots of money – await in this fun, informative and enriching look into the beauty and intricacy of Canadian stamps and bank notes.

“Bank note and stamp engraving is considered to be one of the most beautiful and the most difficult of the engraving and printing arts,” explains Galt Museum Curator Wendy Aitkens, “as the challenge is to outwit counterfeiters by developing very intricate designs difficult to copy and reproduce.”

The talents of Yves Baril of Quebec and Jorge Peral of Mexico are featured in the exhibition, among several others, as they both became masters of their art. Watercolours, photos and drawings, along with engraver's tool and printing plates used in the production of bank notes and stamps will be on display, and visitors can take a peek behind the scenes at bank notes and stamp designs that were not produced.

“Postal stamps from 1908 to 2013 recognize women such as poet E. Pauline Johnson, baker Rose-Anna Vachon, and social activist Nellie McClung, men like Métis leader Louis Riel, explorers Cartier and Champlain, and hockey heroes Paul Henderson and Yvan Cournoyer” says Aitkens. “Other stamps reflect birds and animals, villages and mountains, the territory of Nunavut and the initial Klondike Gold Strike.”

Four interactive modules are also in the exhibition, including a photo booth where visitors can make their own stamp or bank note featuring their face, design elements and choice of colours, which they can email home as a souvenir.

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to Jan 11

Treasures & Curiosities: The Sequel

A cap, a chair, some figurines... a sickle and teletype machine... 33s, old currency, a player piano too? Uniforms, dresses, and more, just for you will be on display in “Treasures & Curiosities: The Sequel” — a new special exhibition opening at the Galt Museum & Archives on Friday, September 26 and running through January 11, 2015.

“It is not just movies that prove so popular a sequel must follow,” muses Wendy Aitkens, Curator at the Galt Museum & Archives. “In 2010, people from the community were invited into the collections vault to choose an artifact or two with some significance to them. They found exploring the collections intriguing, and the exhibit was so well liked that we decided to repeat the fun in recognition of the museum's 50th Anniversary year.”

“Fifty years ago, the community felt the need to preserve its objects, stories and memories,” recounts Aitkens, who has been at the Galt since 2006. “The vision, support and work of City staff and the Lethbridge Historical Society [LHS] built a foundation for the Galt and its artifact and archival collections. With enthusiasm and dedication LHS volunteers catalogued thousands of artifacts, documents, maps and photographs which reflected the history of the city and the surrounding areas. Galt staff and volunteers continue this work today as new generations offer their treasures and curiosities for donation.”

In 2014, more people had fun exploring the vaults and storage shelves housing these donations. Treasures & Curiosities: The Sequel includes the selected artifacts, alongside the surprising and touching stories of why participants chose them.

One of the participants shared that “This entire process of artifact selection was phenomenal! The initial interview was almost therapeutic as we discussed my background, in order to find items that would trigger “something of meaning” to me.”

“When people visit the Collections areas they often find the experience overwhelming,” Aitkens says, “there are so many artifacts to see! The area is secured with a swipe card and key, the air is cool and everything is well organized on shelves, in drawers or on racks. I enjoy watching people to see what catches their eye—something familiar, something colourful, something large or tiny, something that surprises them. The experience is unique and visitors feel the need to explore down the aisles. The curatorial staff at the Galt take real pleasure in showing visitors through the Collections which we care for and work with each day.”

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to Sep 1

Woven in Time: Celebrating 65 Years with Lethbridge Weavers

From warp to weft, thread to tartan, follow along the lives of local women and their drive to preserve the art and craft of weaving everything from household goods to official municipal fabrics in “Woven in Time: Celebrating 65 Years with Lethbridge Weavers”—a new special exhibition showing at the Galt Museum & Archives from June 7 to September 1, 2014.

In 1935, a Lethbridge Branch of the Canadian Handicraft Guild was formed. They operated until the Second World War began when Red Cross work became a priority. In May 1949, eleven women met to re-organize a local Handicraft Guild which involved many different types of crafts. By 1951, the Guild focused its skills, teaching and shows on weaving.

“Woven in Time celebrates 65 years of weaving in southwestern Alberta with examples of weavings from current and previous members of the Guild,” says Galt Museum Curator Wendy Aitkens, “along with historic weavings from the Galt collections, weaving demonstrations by Guild members and video of the weaving process.

According to Judy Hasinoff, a spokesperson for the Guild, “The Lethbridge Handicraft Guild of Weavers is delighted that the Galt Museum is hosting an exhibit of our work of over 65 years. We are proud of what we have accomplished, but the fact that the Galt has mounted such a major exhibit featuring our guild makes us feel that all those years of cooperative weaving, exhibiting, selling, and working hard to be a part of the weaving scene provincially, nationally and internationally are being acknowledged.”

Aitkens says the Galt enjoys partnerships with local organizations “where we can play a part in the celebration of their history, accomplishments and contributions to the broader community. Working with the Lethbridge Handicraft Guild of Weavers has resulted in an exciting exhibition of the works by local weavers who are current and past members of the Guild. The story of this organization and the art of weaving is an important part of the history of this area and the telling of this story is richer because of the involvement of many members of the Guild.”

“Well over 250 members of the Lethbridge and area community have been dedicated members of our guild over the last 65 years,” says Hasinoff, “and both the Galt and the LHG feel they deserve to be acknowledged for their contributions to the local art scene. However, while the exhibit is in part focusing on past works, there is also a strong component inviting visitors to experience weaving and observe and talk to our members as they create on-site, and it is our hope that this will encourage people to consider becoming a part of our guild or at least take away a stronger appreciation for the craft of weaving.”

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Arts of China: Glimpses of an Ancient Civilization
to May 19

Arts of China: Glimpses of an Ancient Civilization

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A travelling exhibit from the Royal Ontario Museum.

Chinese culture, traditions and history come to life through the exploration of three materials closely associated with China: jade, bronze and ceramics, in “Arts of China: Glimpses of an Ancient Civilization” — a traveling multi-lingual exhibit developed and circulated by the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto. Arts of China showcases artifacts dating from the Shang Dynasty (c. 1300-1050 BC) to the Qing Dynasty (AD 1644-1911) selected from the ROM’s world-renowned Far Eastern Collections and opens at the Galt Museum & Archives on Chinese New Year (January 31). The exhibit runs through May 19, 2014.

What do ancient artifacts tell us about the Chinese way of life, Chinese attitudes to the world, and Chinese beliefs in the afterlife? Why is jade such an important material to the Chinese? How can one interpret the symbolism that is present in much of Chinese art? These are some of the significant questions addressed in Arts of China.

“The rich traditions of bronze, ceramics and jade art flourished in China for centuries and are still used by artists around the world today,” says Galt Museum Curator Wendy Aitkens. “Many use similar techniques and finishes developed by the ancient artists in China.”

The Chinese were the first to make stoneware and porcelain vessels which they finished with refined glazes. The quality of the wares was popular in local and other Asian markets; over the centuries, their popularity and influence spread to the Middle East and Europe. Cast bronze vessels, weapons, ceremonial and funereal pieces were often intricately decorated with animals and traditional masks. Artists carved images of animals and plants in jade (prized for its colour and durability) which symbolized long life, fertility, advancement in careers, and good fortune.

Artifacts from the Galt collections such as clothing and ceramic food ware and decorative masks will complement 43 artifacts including plates, bowls, vases, vessels, a dagger axe, jewellery and other adornments, ritual and symbolic items from the ROM.

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to Jan 12

Religion in the Bible Belt


Southwestern Alberta has long been called a “Bible Belt”, though the region includes both a wide variety of Bible-related religious organizations and others which are not. “Religion in the Bible Belt”, a new exhibit at the Galt Museum & Archives explores how people from all groups contributed to the many social and economic aspects of southwestern Alberta from the late 1800s to the late 1930s. The exhibit runs September 21 – January 12, 2014.

“This exhibition is based on the assumption that this region is unique because of the contributions made to the broader community by people from all of the religious groups,” says Curator Wendy Aitkens. “They provided a social welfare network, started schools, established medical care, became politically involved, built impressive buildings, organized social groups for all ages, and offered musical and theatrical entertainment for the whole community.”

1901 statistics for Lethbridge indicated     33% of the population was Presbyterian, 21% Anglican, 19% Roman Catholic, 12% Methodist and 15% belonged to other religions or did not identify any religious affiliation. Numbers for the same year for North Ward (now north Lethbridge), showed 16% were Presbyterian, 12% Anglican, 39% Catholic, 10% Methodist, and 23% other and those with no religious affiliation identified. In rural areas there were Hutterites, Mennonites, Doukhobors, Dutch and Christian Reformed, Lutherans, Baptists, Buddhists and others.

“The scope of this topic is substantial so the choices of the denominations and organizations mentioned were based on census numbers, land ownership and wide-ranging influence in the community,” says Aitkens. “The exhibit explores Niitsitapii (Blackfoot), Catholic, Anglican, Methodist, Presbyterian, United Church, Mormon, Buddhism, Hutterites, and Mennonites. Others are not mentioned but that does not mean their successes and influence are any less important.”

Artifacts and archival photos for the exhibition have come from the Galt’s collections, as well as from the collections of the Glenbow Archives, Gem of the West in Coaldale, Fort Museum in Fort Macleod, the Court House Museum in Cardston, a local Hutterite colony and local churches.

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to Sep 2

Wind Work, Wind Play: Weathervanes & Whirligigs

A travelling exhibit by the Canadian Museum of Civilization

The Galt Museum & Archives is wishing for wind this summer as it brings a new travelling exhibition to southern Alberta: Wind Work, Wind Play: Weathervanes & Whirligigs — developed and circulated by the Canadian Museum of Civilization in Gatineau, Quebec — features 30+ pieces of wind-powered Canadian folk art dating from the 1870s-1970s, and a number of southern Alberta examples too.

“Wind is a common point of conversation in southwestern Alberta,” says Curator Wendy Aitkens. “We note its intensity and we note its absence. With this exhibit we hope to bring a different perspective to our typical conversation about the wind.  This exhibit is a whimsical look at heritage and contemporary whirligigs and weathervanes – objects that entertain us because the wind animates them.”

“We are pleased to showcase more than 30 wonderful wind-driven pieces from our extensive folk art collection at the Galt Museum & Archives,” says Victor Rabinovitch, President and CEO of the Canadian Museum of Civilization Corporation. “Once dismissed as primitive or naïve, Canadian folk art has long since come into its own, and we are proud to show these objects, which reflect the whimsy, humour and creativity of ordinary Canadians from coast to coast.”

Weathervanes have been part of the European and North American landscape for centuries, perched atop every community’s tallest buildings, on barn roofs, church, steeples, and castle towers. Many are now considered icons of folk art.

Most people are aware of the weathervane’s role in telling the direction of the wind. However, not everyone knows that the wind’s direction can also give an idea of oncoming weather. “I've always loved old weathervanes, but I never knew how they really worked,” says Sheldon Posen, Curator of Canadian Folklife at the Museum of Civilization. “As it turns out, they are more than just pretty pointers!”

Whirligigs, on the other hand, are created to amuse and entertain. These wind-driven lawn ornaments are generally small figural creations, which, when placed outdoors, engage in frantic movements as they ceaselessly accomplish nothing.

Nearly everyone loves these folk art treasures. The whirligigs, new and old, are masterworks of fun—sawyers who saw away, fiddlers who fiddle away, farmers who milk cows, and voyageurs who paddle all the faster when the wind blows. The scarred old weathervanes are charming—classic horses, fish, pigs, and arrows rendered in wood, sheet steel, and wrought iron by skilled, often amateur, hands.

The travelling exhibition has been enhanced with local wind-powered folk art pieces from the Galt Museum, as well as from the collections of the Prairie Engine Tractor Society in Picture Butte, Doug Costall from Claresholm and Alex Pavlenko from Lethbridge.

Tom McFall, Executive Director of the Alberta Craft Council, is also a collector of folk art whirligigs and weathervanes, and has loaned three of his pieces for this exhibit. He will be guest speaker at The Curator Presents… part of the official opening of Wind Work, Wind Play: Weathervanes & Whirligigs, on Sunday, June 2 at 2:00 pm. His “Folk Art on the Prairies” presentation will be followed by a ribbon cutting; the exhibition will be available for viewing through September 2, 2013.

Wind Work, Wind Play was first on display at the Toronto Pearson International Airport, Terminal 1, Gallery 120 in 2008, introducing both Canadian and international visitors to aspects of Canadian society, culture and history. It has since been shown in Alma and Rimouski in Quebec; in Peterborough and Markham, Ontario; at both the Musée Heritage Museum in St. Albert and Museum London earlier this year; and will travel to the Surrey Museum in BC after the Lethbridge showing.

Programs reflecting folk art and wind power will be offered throughout the run of the exhibit, including family activities during Summer Family Fun; presentations as part of Wednesdays at the Galt for ages 55+; special topics during Thursday programs for adults; and a special Whirligigs & Weathervanes on the Prairies Family Festival featuring handmade local and Alberta-made examples on Saturday, August 31.

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to May 19

Canadian Science and Engineering Hall of Fame

The Galt Museum & Archives brings a special traveling exhibit to southern Alberta: the Canadian Science and Engineering Hall of Fame — developed and circulated by the Canada Science and Technology Museum in Ottawa — featuring 54 of Canada’s brightest male and female scientists, of whom eight are Nobel Prize winners, including Lethbridge-born physicist Bertram Brockhouse, and Willard S. Boyle whose work is integral to virtually every camcorder, digital camera and telescope in use today, even the Hubble Space Telescope.

The Canadian Science and Engineering Hall of Fame, which has already been shown in St. Catherines, ON, Victoria and Prince George, BC and in Moose Jaw and Saskatoon, SK, honours groundbreaking individuals whose outstanding scientific or technological achievements have had long-term implications around the world. These remarkable people include well-known scientists like Alexander Graham Bell and Sandford Fleming, as well as lesser-known but equally accomplished Canadians, like Charles Saunders and Maude Abbott

Their stories are compelling and noteworthy elements of Canadian contributions to science and technology, and the inductees’ personal and professional lives are told through audio and video presentations and in written word. Childhood and educational influences, mentors who provided guidance and support, specific incidents in their lives which stimulated their curiosity and challenged them to find solutions or answers, provide inspiration and insight for youth and adults alike.

“This exhibit is a wonderful opportunity for us to learn more about Canadian scientists and engineers who have contributed in significant ways to our lives,” says Curator Wendy Aitkens, “Scientists’ work is often the basis for the development and production of items we have in our homes and neighbourhoods.  Many objects and photographs will be on exhibit and visitors will be challenged to figure out whose science led to their development.”

Physicist Bertram Brockhouse, who was born in Lethbridge July 15, 1918, shared the Nobel Prize in Physics with Clifford Shull in 1994 “for pioneering contributions to the development of neutron scattering techniques for studies of condensed matter”. Brockhouse was noted “for the development of neutron spectroscopy [for condensed matter]”, in short, helping to answer “the question of what atoms do”. His research made infra-red detectors and exhaust-cleaning systems for automobiles possible.

The exhibit is supplemented with artifacts from the Galt’s own collections, giving visitors the opportunity to make connections between the scientists’ work and items of everyday life. Additional interactive challenges will engage problem solving skills, investigative thinking and creativity – all abilities required by scientists and engineers to make a difference.

“When young people learn the stories of these prominent scientists and engineers it may inspire them to follow in their footprints,” says Aitkens. “Perhaps knowing that Lethbridge produced a Nobel Prize winner in Bertram Brockhouse will make the youngster’s own potential seem more real.” 

Canadian Science and Engineering Hall of Fame runs February 2 through May 19, 2013, and officially opens Sunday, February 10 at 2:00 pm with a The Curator Presents… presentation “Celebrating Canadian Genius” with Dr. Roy Golsteyn, followed by a ribbon cutting.

Programs reflecting the science and technology theme will be offered throughout the run of the exhibit, including family activities during Saturdays at 1:00; presentations as part of Wednesdays at the Galt for ages 55+; special topics during Thursday programs for adults; Nerd Fest aimed at post-secondary students March 21-23, and a special Earth Day program on Sunday, April 21.

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to Jan 13

Uncovering Secrets: Archaeology in Southern Alberta

Come marvel at the secrets hidden in your backyard! The land of southern Alberta is full of stories about our past - fortunately, there are people who know how to interpret what they find.

Archaeology is a fascinating way to discover the human stories hidden under the soils and across the landscape of southern Alberta.

Archaeologists uncover bison bones that are 11,000 years old by digging several metres under the prairie grasses. They excavate depressions that turn out to be garbage dumps and privies to learn about the people who lived in a coal mining town in the Crowsnest Pass.

Dart points found in conjunction with ancient animal bones uncovered by erosion, family belongings unearthed in the remains of an historic ranch building, and surveys compiled of human and animal figures carving into stone help us understand those who lived here before our time.

Blackfoot oral traditions provide a fascinating perspective to all that archaeologists present.

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to Sep 9

Champions & Challenges in Sports

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The Galt Museum & Archives celebrates local competitive sports this summer in the new special exhibit “Champions & Challenges in Sports” featuring challenges and successes faced by some amazing personalities including athletes, coaches and managers, officials, sponsors, casual athletes and the fan.

“Competitive sports have long been an indelible part of human culture,” says Curator Wendy Aitkens, “because people like to challenge each other and themselves to achieve physical, mental and often monetary success. Sports are important to a community’s identity, recreational infrastructure and economics. Involvement in sports helps humans stay healthy, improve physical strength and dexterity, develop team spirit and, above all, have fun.” 

Athletes in organized sports are usually in the spotlight but their activities would not be possible without coaches and managers, referees and timekeepers, sponsors to provide necessary funding, advocates to promote and plan events and the fan to cheer on everyone. Family members who buy necessary equipment and deliver kids to the arena, media who write about and announce at games also contribute to the overall success of games, tournaments and leagues. 

Many people are athletes in a more casual sense. Weekend runners, players in a slow-pitch beer league, paddlers at the Lethbridge Dragon Boat Festival, and curlers who ‘hurry hard’ throughout the winter are a significant part of the local sports scene.

Champions & Challenges in Sports” features an individual, company or group in each of these areas with stories, historic and current memorabilia, and in their own words captured through video interviews. They include: Tyler Birch [bowling/alpine skiing], Karen Collin [dragon boating], Dennis Connolly [fan], Alan Dixon [sponsor], Susan Eymann [community identity], Allan Friesen [coach], Lori Greene [curling], Jennifer Grimes [curling/power lifting], Bill Halma [referee], Brian Jeannotte [announcer], Willy Kimosop [marathon runner], The Lowe Family [running], Knud Petersen [advocate], Heather Steacy [track and field], Hank Stoffer [slow pitch], and Kris Versteeg of the Florida Panthers [hockey].

“We acknowledge that the Lethbridge community has thousands of people involved in sports that are not included in the exhibit,” says Aitkens.  “We worked with a community advisory group to realize the final list of 19 people. Their stories are considered representative of a much larger community; with this exhibit we celebrate all those who participate, contribute to and support sport in Lethbridge.” 

Champions & Challenges in Sports” runs May 12 – September 9, and officially opens Sunday, May 13 at 2:00 pm with Curator Presents presentation “Who Are the Champions?” featuring Lethbridge Sports Hall of Fame inductee Brad Brown, followed by a ribbon cutting.

Programs reflecting the sports theme will be offered throughout the run of the exhibit, including family activities during Saturdays at 1:00 and Summer Fun at 1:00; presentations as part of Wednesdays at the Galt for ages 55+; and special topics during Thursday adult programs and special events throughout the summer.

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to Apr 22

Earth’s Climate in the Balance

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A travelling exhibit from Bruce County Museum & Cultural Centre

The earth has experienced 4.6 billion years of climate change. But what is climate?  How has it changed in the past?  What are the scientific facts behind global warming? Are we in the midst of the sixth greatest extinction in the history of life?  These questions and more are raised in the Galt Museum & Archives new special exhibit “Earth’s Climate in the Balance” officially opening Sunday, January 22 during Museum Community Day from 1:00 to 4:30 pm.

Earth’s Climate in the Balance - a travelling exhibit developed by Bruce County Museum & Cultural Centre in Southampton, Ontario in 2008 – examines the big picture on climate change with an informative and approachable treatment of some of our most pressing and current concerns.  It not only looks at the history of climate on our planet, but also inspires the public to ask, “So what's next? And what can I do?”

“This is such an important global issue,” says Wendy Aitkens, Curator at the Galt, “we wanted to be a part of the discussion involving theories surrounding climate change; the availability of this travelling exhibit seemed to be a good opportunity. The exhibit will be supported by a variety of programs that will allow for more information sharing and community dialogue.”

Environmental archaeologist Dr. Peter Storck, Royal Ontario Museum curator emeritus, and author, was commissioned by Bruce County Museum to create the exhibit complete with several interactive components.

Storck says,” This exhibit should put global warming in context – it isn’t anything new under the sun, but has been happening for years.” And Storck expects people will be enlightened by the scale of climate change in relation to the immense age of the earth. Adds Storck, “We won’t destroy the earth. We may destroy ourselves, but in the big picture of climate change, we are one generation in a world that is billions of years old.”

Using the premise “Climate through Geologic Time, 4.6 Billion Years of Change… What’s Next?” the exhibit examines many aspects surrounding this hot topic: what makes climate on earth; what tools are used in studying past climates and climate change; how has climate changed over 4 billion years of earth history; how has climate changed over recorded human history; what is the influence of life on the atmosphere and climate; what is the scientific basis of global warming over the past several decades.

The stories are illustrated with over 40 artifacts and 170 time charts, photographs, satellite images and artist’s paintings obtained from universities, museums, government organizations such as NASA and the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), as well as the United Nations body that monitors climate change: the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

The exhibit also examines the current extinction crisis, and interactive displays on how each one of us can affect the future of the Earth are included, such as a box store to choose environmentally-friendly products, and a recycling activity.

Programs reflecting the Earth’s Climate in the Balance theme will be offered throughout the run of the exhibit, including weekly family activities during Saturdays at 1:00; presentations on the first and third Wednesday monthly as part of Wednesdays at the Galt for ages 55+; The Curator Presents… on Sunday February 5; and special topics during other adult programs offered Thursdays.

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to Jan 8

Toys & Games

From a game of Pick-Up Sticks from circa 1900 to a 21st Century magic wand with hair of Unicorn, from pull toys, push cars and action figures to a replica Blackfoot bone toss game and a rocking horse from the 1800s… more than 130 toys and games are featured in the fall exhibit “Toys & Games – engage, entertain, educate” officially opening at the Galt Museum & Archives at 11:00 am Saturday October 1 during Museum Community Day, 10:00 am to 4:30 pm.

“Instead of focusing on a historical perspective on toys and games,” says Wendy Aitkens, Curator at the Galt. “I wanted to explore what we gain from play, how critical it is to the development of a child, and for teens and adults – we should never lose our ability to play, it gives us a break from everyday life. It helps keep our minds and bodies active.”

Play is entertaining and can be a solitary activity or social interaction. Play with toys and games stimulate imagination, creativity, exploration and curiosity. Memory, math skills, problem solving abilities, verbal and visual dexterity, physical capabilities, and social skills needed to cope in the adult world are all improved – often without even trying! 

The exhibit could not have happened without the help of the community, which responded to the Galt’s call for toys that went out earlier in the year. Over 60 of the toys and games on display have been loaned by people in southern Alberta. The Esplanade Museum in Medicine Hat has also loaned items from their collection.

“It was such fun to ask the community for their participation,” says Aitkens, “to learn what they still had in their games’ cupboard – some had been put away for future use by grandchildren, others are being used regularly. Some of the stories behind the toys range from obsession with Lego, to dressing up as a child, the importance of books, and various snippets of memories. These are incorporated with interesting historical tidbits into the artifact labels.”

Historically, toy production went from handmade toys, to being purchased from an itinerant merchant, to those manufactured en masse in factories and sold in large local department stores and catalogues, to toys based on television and movie characters, to high tech computerized games sold and played globally online.  Each toy or game related to the society in which the children were being raised.

Programs reflecting the Toys & Games theme will be offered throughout the fall, including weekly family activities during Saturdays at 1:00 running through December; presentations on the first and third Wednesday monthly as part of Wednesdays at the Galt for ages 55+; The Curator Presents… in October; and special topics at the Galt Workshops Series offered October through December.

The Toys & Games festivities kick off with Museum Community Day on Saturday, October 1 from 10:00 am to 4:30 pm with free admission all day, and activities including a giant game of snakes and ladders and a Teddy Bear Hospital – kids! bring your teddy bear in for some tender loving care. ArtWalk activities are also free, and include the 3 Dimensions Sculpture Show and afternoon demonstrations.

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to Sep 11

The Greatest Years You Never Knew

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Come experience the boom and bust, joy and despair of the lives of Lethbridge residents in the Galt Museum & Archives newest special exhibit, The Greatest Years You Never Knew, officially opening at 11:00 am Saturday, April 30 during the free admission Museum Community Day from 10-3:30 pm.

Lethbridge changed forever between 1906 and 1913. These were years of incredible population growth when many new businesses and industries made Lethbridge home. It was also a time of wild optimism as fortunes were made and, in many ways, these were the greatest years in local history and vital in shaping the Lethbridge of today.

“I jumped at the chance to be involved in an exhibit on the years 1906-1913,” says Belinda Crowson, Museum Educator and guest curator for this exhibit.  “These are years that changed Canada, Alberta and Lethbridge forever.  I hope guests to the exhibit will have a sense of this “grand” picture of how Lethbridge changed from a coal town to a modern, cosmopolitan city.” 

But not everyone shared in the good times. For many people these greatest years never happened.

“Equally, though, this is a story of individuals and families, many of whom came to a new country and a new community,” explains Crowson. “I hope visitors will experience how lives were changed and how these personal stories weave together to make our shared community history.” 

So much occurred in Lethbridge between 1906 and 1913, that to tell a full and complete story would take more space allowed by the dimensions of the Galt’s special exhibit area.  Only a portion of the story can be told. In the exhibit development stage public opinion was engaged through a series of surveys polling people on topics of interest and how they envisioned the exhibit to look.

Themes were then chosen based on the feedback: Immigration, Great Successes, Great Failures and Heritage Buildings.  In-depth research revealed there were two parallel stories of Lethbridge during this time period – of grand successes and grand failures, of the working class and the elite, the experience of “preferred” immigrants and other immigrant groups and of the poor and the rich

All of these lives inter-mixed in Lethbridge, and in some cases there were hierarchies within hierarchies based on wealth, class, nationality and status. To give visitors a sense of these “parallel” experiences there are two entrances into The Greatest Years You Never Knew – visitors choose the one their ancestors would have entered or the one they wish to enter themselves. 

“Better yet, come visit the exhibit throughout the summer and enter through a different entrance on your next visit!” says Crowson. 

Programs reflecting the theme will be offered throughout the run of the exhibit, including twice monthly family activities during Family Summer Fun running May through August; presentations on the first and third Wednesday monthly as part of Wednesdays at the Galt for seniors; The Curator Presents… in May; special guest speakers for Café Galt in June and July; and special topics for the new Hands-On Heritage Arts Series offered May through August. In addition, activities on Canada Day and during the Coulees & Culture summer camps will also focus on the themes of the exhibit. The Greatest Years You Never Knew closes September 11, 2011.

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to Apr 10

Fakes and Forgeries: Yesterday and Today

Can you tell the true artifact from the fake? The Galt Museum & Archives invites visitors to test their skills in Fakes & Forgeries: Yesterday and Today, an interactive travelling exhibit produced by the Royal Ontario Museum opening Saturday, December 18, 2010 as part of the Museum Community Day from 10:00 am to 4:30 pm. Admission is free all day with special activities planned.

Fakes & Forgeries presents 115 authentic items next to counterfeit products that run the gamut from historical specimens and cultural artifacts, to household items and designer name brands.

“Fakes and forgeries are everywhere in our world, but this is nothing new,” says Wendy Aitkens, Curator at the Galt. “Counterfeit money has been around since the use of currency began some 2500 years ago. Forged art, archaeological specimens, fossils and other collectibles have been sold on the black market for generations. Many reproductions were made hundreds of years ago as legitimate souvenirs or modest replicas for the local market. As they resurface today they are often sold as the real goods. More recently, pirated software, music, movies and knocks offs of more expensive clothing, accessories, automotive parts and technical equipment have been sold to and used by many of us.”

Visitors of all ages will learn how to tell authentic pieces from sly forgeries and discover the fascinating lengths forgers will take to hoodwink the unwary. The exhibit provides information to help visitors identify and avoid misrepresentative articles, including pirated computer software and counterfeit currency.

Programs reflecting the theme will be offered throughout the run of the exhibit, including weekly family activities during Saturdays at 1:00, presentations on the first and third Wednesday monthly as part of Wednesdays at the Galt for senior, The Curator Presents… in January and a special guest speaker for Café Galt in February.

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to Dec 5

Galt Hospital - 100 Years

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An historic anniversary is a fitting time to highlight the 100-year history of the 1910 Galt Hospital building - located on the edge of the coulees at the west end of 5 Avenue South - in a new exhibit showing at the Galt Museum & Archives until December 5, 2010.  

The red brick structure has been an integral part of Lethbridge and southwestern Alberta over the past 100 years, as the home of six organizations which have provided valuable community resources. Galt Hospital - 100 Years describes the various uses of the building from September 1, 1910, when Prime Minister Sir Wilfrid Laurier attended the grand opening of expanded Galt Hospital, through today when it has become known as a cultural and heritage icon in its role as a museum and archives.

Large-scale photographs, artifacts ranging from an operating table to a nurse’s pin, a seating area and a series of short video presentations paint the picture of the Galt Hospital and Galt School of Nursing, the Galt Rehabilitation Centre, the Lethbridge Health Unit, the Galt Museum, and the Archives. The oral histories captured on video are particularly revealing.

“Many of the rich stories involved with the building’s various uses can be found in documents, plans, maps and photographs housed with the City Clerk and in the Galt Archives,” says Wendy Aitkens, Curator of the exhibit, “but many people who worked in this building still reside in the Lethbridge area. This presented us with a rare opportunity to capture personal and professional stories now, an opportunity that is quickly disappearing, particularly with the eldest of these people.”    

Students and professors from the University of Lethbridge Applied Studies program and volunteers from the local Story Catchers organization partnered with the Galt on the oral history project.  Interviews were gathered over the past several months and will continue to be gathered in the months to come.The information from these interviews will be preserved in the Galt Archives.

In 1910, the now historic red brick building was added to the existing 1891 Galt Hospital in response to a growing need for more hospital beds. From the time of its opening in September 1910 until June 1955, it served the community as a hospital: with wards, operating rooms, a morgue and administrative offices. 1910 also marked the opening of the Galt School of Nursing - a teaching institute within the walls of the hospital, where young women worked long hours for three years to become nurses.

In 1955, the Municipal Hospital opened and both the Galt Hospital operation and the Nursing School moved to the new location. The Galt building and a 1930s addition that initially connected it to the 1891 hospital were turned over to a new use: patients who required long-term care, but who no longer needed to be hospitalized, were admitted to the Galt Rehabilitation Centre which served the people of Lethbridge, the Municipal District of Lethbridge, and nearby towns of Coaldale, Barons, Nobleford and Stirling until 1965.

Once the building was no longer required for long-term care, it was turned over to the Lethbridge Health Unit. The Health Unit used the main floor of the 1910 building and the 1930 addition. On the second floor and in the basement was another new tenant, the Sir Alexander Galt Museum, which included in its management the development and operation of the Archives.

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to Aug 29

Kaahsinnooniksi Ao’toksisawooyawa

A partnership project organized with members of the four Blackfoot communities, Pitt Rivers Museum, University of Oxford, University of Aberdeen, Glenbow Museum, and Galt Museum & Archives.  Supported in Lethbridge with the generosity of TransCanada, and in the UK through an Arts and Humanities Research Council Grant.

Our ancestors have come to visit: Blackfoot Shirts

In 1841, Sir George Simpson, Governor of the Hudson’s Bay Company, acquired five extraordinary Blackfoot shirts during his visit to Fort Edmonton. Simpson’s secretary Edward Hopkins eventually took them to England and donated them to the Pitt Rivers Museum at the University of Oxford, where they have resided since 1893.

Written records tell us this much about the shirts, but many unanswered questions surround them.  This summer the Galt Museum & Archives is privileged to host the shirts for personal study by members of the Blackfoot communities in southern Alberta and Montana from May 21 through June 2, and for public exhibit from June 5 through August 29. 

The exhibit at the Galt will provide opportunities for learning about the historical context of the shirts, and similarities to modern-day wear. The exhibit will be supplemented with artifacts on loan from Fort Whoop-Up Interpretive Centre and The Fort Museum in Fort Macleod, and current-day clothing from various local sources to help draw those connections.


The project brings together UK-based researchers with Blackfoot people in Alberta, Canada, and Montana, USA, to explore the cultural history and contemporary meanings of five Blackfoot men's shirts held in the collections of the Pitt Rivers Museum, University of Oxford in England since 1893.

The shirts are made of deer and elk hide, decorated with porcupine quillwork; some have human and horse hair fringes along the sleeves, and are ritual garments. Shirts of this sort were worn by men who had contributed to community well-being.

Today, there are few shirts of comparable age in Canadian museums and Blackfoot people have had little access to such heritage items. Nevertheless, Blackfoot leaders have spoken of them as important for youth and hope that learning about the shirts, and cultural knowledge related to them, will help youth to maintain strong cultural identity.

"These shirts are our curriculum. That's how we learn who we are," says Frank Weasel Head, Kainai ceremonial leader.

The project aims to make the shirts available to Blackfoot people and the wider public for the first time; to explore how historic artifacts can be used by tribal communities to revive, share and transmit cultural knowledge, and how they serve to anchor social memory and in the construction of identity; to consider how the transmission of such cultural knowledge can benefit different generations; to explore the implications of such knowledge generation for contemporary museum practice.

Through the public exhibition of these shirts in Alberta, and through handling workshops specifically for Blackfoot people, researchers Laura Peers, Alison Brown and Heather Richardson hope to show how close examination of the shirts can allow for the retrieval, and transmission of the cultural knowledge the shirts embody; and to revive the knowledge of the making and uses of the shirts.


The workshops have been developed by the project team in collaboration with ceremonial leaders and educators from the four Blackfoot nations: Siksika, Piikani (Peigan), Kainai (Blood), and Aamsskapipiikani (Blackfeet). An innovation in cross-cultural and international museum access, the workshops are facilitated by Pitt Rivers Museum conservator Heather Richardson, a specialist on First Nations material, with curators Laura Peers (Pitt Rivers Museum) and Alison Brown (University of Aberdeen), observing and assisting the workshops.

Information surfacing within each workshop – relating to the manufacture and use of the shirts, for example – will be recorded and shared with subsequent workshop participants in order to facilitate the exchange of knowledge and its transmission to future generations. 

This is a pioneering project: no other UK museum has provided direct, physical access to early historic collections for Blackfoot people. The project builds on relationships developed during previous research carried out by Brown and Peers exploring how historic photographs of ancestors were culturally interpreted by Blackfoot people. 

The project has also been requested by ceremonial leaders from the Blood Tribe who wish to study these early men's shirts and to pass on knowledge about them in order to strengthen Blackfoot culture. 


The exhibit celebrates these remarkable shirts and the Blackfoot community of the past and present.  The shirts were skillfully made and beautifully decorated by Blackfoot women who also created attractive clothing for themselves and their children.  A woman’s dress and small girl’s dress finished with bands and tassels of colourful glass beads, tiny bells, and small bits of trade cloth will be exhibited as well, to show examples of female clothing and to demonstrate changes in clothing stimulated by the availability of useful European items.

Many items offered by the HBC for trade proved very practical for the Blackfoot people and were put to good use in the First Nations community.  A few examples will be included in the exhibit, such as metal cooking kettles and knives, hunting muskets, fire-making Strike-a-Lights, and colourful wool cloth.

The historic shirts were worn by men who achieved various honours through their activities as warriors and providers.  Today, elders on the Blackfoot Reserves encourage their young people to achieve a respected place in their community through education and professional achievement.  They tell the students that by graduating from high school and university they earn the right to wear a graduation gown; that by participating on a sports team they earn the right to wear a team jersey. 

This exhibit will feature such items to draw that connection, and will also show that many careers have specific clothing related to an occupation: a dental hygienist’s blouse, a lawyer’s robe, or a doctor’s lab coat for example.  These pieces of clothing demonstrate success in the community and identify achievements made by the people wearing them – much as the historic shirts did 170 years ago.

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to May 20

Treasures & Curiosities

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.

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to Jan 31

Dinosaurs & Company

A travelling exhibit produced by the Exhibition Production Centre of the Musée de la nature et des sciences de Sherbrooke, the Montreal Planetarium and the Musée de Paléontologie et de l’Évolution, and made possible in part by the Quebec Ministry of Culture and through a grant from the Museums Assistance Program, Department of Canadian Heritage.

The Galt Museum & Archives presents the family-friendly travelling exhibit “Dinosaurs & Company” this fall, to allow local and area residents to discover the dinosaurs that lived in Alberta over 75 million years ago, their environment, living conditions, diet, and the animals they coexisted with. 

Dinosaurs existed on earth for 165 million years, from 230 million before present to 65 million BP.  This exhibit focuses on the specific time period 75 million BP and on a specific location – what is now Alberta.  A series of interactive stations will shed light on theories of their disappearance, and on the scientists who are uncovering this ancient history.

There have been a number of major finds recorded in this area, including dinosaur bones and other fossils by George Mercer Dawson and others in 1874 during the Geological Survey of Canada; the Albertosaurus sarcophagus in 1884 by geologist and explorer Joseph Tyrrell [Dinosaur Provicinal Park was created in 1955, and the Tyrrell Museum opened in 1985]; an Edmontonsaurus named in 1917; an extensive nesting site of Hadrosaur [duck-billed] dinosaurs in 1987 by Wendy Sloboda, a young girl from Warner, Alberta [Devil’s Coulee Dinosaur Heritage Museum opened there as a result]; and, in 2009, the Hesperonychus elizabethae - the most diminutive North American carnivore yet: barely the size of a small chicken, with razor sharp, retractable claws.

Related exhibits are also planned, including Dinosaur Finds! highlighting the career of southern Alberta paleontologist Wendy Sloboda, in the Lower Level Gallery.  Archives Exposed… Dinosaur Country showcases archival photographs throughout the main level meeting rooms.

Programs and events reflecting the dinosaur theme will be offered throughout the run of the exhibit, including a schedule of speakers at Café Galt, weekly family activities at Saturdays at 1:00, a special presentation of The Curator Presents… in November and a New Year’s Eve Family Dinosaur Gala.

Dinosaurs & Company is a travelling exhibit produced by the Exhibition Production Centre of the Musée de la nature et des sciences de Sherbrooke, the Montreal Planetarium and the Musée de Paléontologie et de l’Évolution, and made possible in part by the Quebec Ministry of Culture and through a grant from the Museums Assistance Program, Department of Canadian Heritage.

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to Sep 20

The Mighty Bridge


The celebration of a centennial of any sort helps people identify more strongly with their community and discover a renewed or new sense of pride in their history. 

For over one hundred years, the Lethbridge Railway Viaduct, known locally as the High Level Bridge, has been a part of the landscape and human fabric of southern Alberta.  Locals bring visiting family and friends to see it in hopes of watching a mile long train travel its length, artists capture its many views and moods in paintings and photographs, and the Canadian Pacific Railway hauls a myriad of products across it many times daily. 

The Galt Museum & Archives developed The Mighty Bridge exhibit as a part of this year’s community-wide bridge centennial celebration. 

Visitors will enter the exhibit by walking across a painted mural on the floor of the gallery, giving them a sense of walking on the bridge looking down through the railway ties and tracks to the river valley 307 feet below.  Artifacts in the exhibit include a velocipede - or rail-friendly bicycle, a two-person handcart, a riveting gun on loan from the California State Railroad Museum, a 1950’s conductor’s uniform, and a diving suit on loan from Glenbow Museum similar to the one used to check the concrete support piers for flood damage. 

A 1938 Chevrolet – converted by the CPR to provide the Superintendent in southern Alberta easy transportation on the rails – is a part of the Galt’s Collection.  It will be on exhibit in the showroom of Davis Pontiac Buick GMC dealership in Lethbridge from June 20 through September 20.

Because of the iconic significance of the High Level Bridge, many types of memorabilia, souvenirs, and household products sport the image of the bridge, and numerous samples from the Galt’s Collection will be displayed.  Hands-on activities will include building a model of the bridge with Styrofoam blocks, manipulating a Meccano crane, and playing with an elaborate toy train set. Audio sounds of steam powered bridge construction tools and a DVD of footage taken from the engineer’s compartment of a locomotive as it crossed the bridge are part of the exhibit.

Four smaller exhibits will fill the Galt Museum & Archives with the bridge theme.  Contemporary images of the bridge from the Lethbridge Photo Club and the Lethbridge Artists Club will be exhibited.  Children will be invited to take photographs and write a short story about the bridge and these will posted in the gallery.  Treasures from the Archives such as copies of the original design engineer’s drawings of the bridge, historic photos of construction of the bridge, commemorative stamps, train timetables and tickets will also be displayed.

Programs and events reflecting the railway and bridge theme will be offered throughout the run of the exhibit.  All of this will complement other centennial activities available for residents and visitors to participate in as they celebrate and acknowledge the landmark and icon of the High Level Bridge at Lethbridge.

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