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Passport program aims to give a boost to region’s museums

Plenty of us drive by our local museums with a vague plan to visit them sooner or later. Others might not even notice them at all. Now, the Region of Waterloo and the ArtWorks Project have come up with a way to motivate you to become a tourist in your own community.

The Mennonite Story in St. Jacobs is one of 11 museums in the region participating in the Passport to Play program.[Will Sloan / The Observer]
The Mennonite Story in St. Jacobs is one of 11 museums in the region participating in the Passport to Play program. [Will Sloan / The Observer]
Eleven Waterloo Region museums and cultural attractions have joined forces for “Passport to Play,” an initiative that encourages culture vultures to pay a visit to all the sites they might otherwise take for granted.

“We all want to support each other, so this was a way to do it,” said Sean Jasmins of the Waterloo Region Museum. “We hope this will be a starting-point where we can all begin to grow and promote each other on a more regular basis.

“Most of these facilities are very family-friendly, so we’re looking for kids of all ages – including you and I,” he added.

At each of the eleven spots, visitors will be able to pick up a passport, which can be stamped at any participating venue. Anyone who gets four stamps from four museums will have a chance to win $500 from the ArtWorks Project, with other prizes including dinner packages, hotel accommodations, and museum products.

“I would suggest any of the cultural attractions on the list,” he said. “The Butterfly Conservatory is a wonderful place to take your family. Cambridge Galleries is great, Castle Kilbride, City of Waterloo Museum … I don’t want to single out one. All of them are good, and what this program is designed to do is help us promote each other.”

Other participants are the Cambridge Galleries, Homer Watson House and Gallery, Joseph Schneider house, Kitchener-Waterloo Art Gallery, the Canadian Clay and Glass Gallery, THEMUSEUM, and in St. Jacobs, the Mennonite Story and Historic Mill Museums (1406 King St. N).

So far, Jenny Shantz of the Mennonite Story has not detected an increase in participants, but sees the program as a way to bring more local attention to the popular St. Jacobs tourist attraction.

“The Mennonite Story is a very good introduction to the history and origins of the Mennonite people, particularly in this area,” she said.

“It goes on to talk about Mennonites throughout the world, and gives people an opportunity to reflect on the story. It gives people an opportunity to understand the culture without intruding on them.”

More information is available at passporttoplay.ca, including a printable passport that will be accepted at any of the museums. The contest deadline is October 25, with the prize draw to be held October 27.

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