Following a change of name and a change of focus comes an effort to reach out to the community as a sometimes-beleaguered museum in Kitchener attempts to get back on course.
To that end, David Marskell is searching for support from the townships in Waterloo Region. The CEO of Themuseum in Kitchener was at Wellesley council Mar. 15 to ask the township to support the organization in
its effort to bring groundbreaking exhibitions to the area.
At the end of a presentation about the museum’s history and its latest exhibition – ‘Searching for Tom,’ a show about the life and works of Tom Thompson – Marskell asked to be placed on the list of community groups requesting a donation from council for 2011.
But it’s not just about the money, he stressed.
“I just feel that it’s important that I reach out to the townships and make sure that connection is there, because so many people come from the townships to us,” he said. “I want them to know that they’re important enough that I can travel a little bit outside of my area and come and visit them and give them an update.”
Marskell said he would be thrilled with any donation from council, even if it’s only $100.
“Just so we can say they find us relevant and they support what we’re doing,” he said. “I just wanted to do a little cheerleading and show them the growth that’s happened.”
That growth includes a shift whereby the organization changed its name, along with its focus, becoming just Themuseum after being The Children’s Museum. Beginning with an exhibition about Jane Goodall featuring a speaker series and as many interactive exhibits geared toward adults as children, Themuseum became more about featuring what Marskell called cutting-edge shows, including exhibits about Andy Warhol and the Titanic.
Along with such exhibits, Marskell hopes Themuseum can also be a stage for showcasing the townships. For instance, Woolwich week ran in December, with the township flag on display and information about the Elmira Maple Syrup Festival along with other attractions made available to visitors. The promotion was combined with discounted tickets to local residents. Markell hopes to do another week like it in the future.
“I want to build bridges and collaborations,” he said. “If we can do some partnerships where residents can come for a discount or they can bring tables and show off all the great things in Wellesley, that would be great.”
The changes have increased revenues. Themuseum draws a third of its funding from the region, a number Marskell maintains is much lower than similar institutions, which can rely on local governments for up to 50 per cent of their funding.
Although the facility is located in Kitchener and is financed by regional council, Marskell aims to involve the townships as much as possible.
“It belongs to everybody in Waterloo Region,” he said. “We want them to know they matter to us and we want them to come and see what we have to offer.”