It would be easy for those in the business of preserving the past to become stagnant and stale. History, by its nature, doesn’t change very much, after all.
However, The Museum at Campbell River’s attendance numbers continue to increase year over year throughout 2016, according to promotions and membership coordinator Erika Anderson.
It was a year for celebration, and the special events brought a lot of people through the doors.
“Anniversaries are a great opportunity to highlight light work that we’ve been doing for quite a while,” says Museum at Campbell River Program Manager Ken Blackburn.
The museum’s Puppet Theatre celebrated it’s 30th consecutive year of entertaining children and teaching them local history.
As such, a special 30th anniversary puppet party was held where the first plays – featuring early Campbell River pioneer Fred Nunns – were performed and many school groups flocked to see the performances.
The Museum’s Empire steam donkey was also manufactured 100 years ago this year, so, on Labour Day, it was fired up and over 300 people celebrated it’s 100th “birthday” and share in cake and donkey coffee (coffee made right in the Steam Donkey’s boiler).
Part of how to keep history fresh, according Blackburn, is to be creative.
And while that sounds simple enough, it’s actually a relatively difficult balancing act.
“The challenge of being creative is one that we especially have to work hard at, in terms of programming, by doing things like having our anchored events – like Christmas and Halloween – not be about doing the same thing every year. We’re always looking for fun ways to present things.”
But Blackburn thinks the main thing is to just keep the museum as a place in the collective community consciousness as a place where things happen.
“I think over the years we’ve been seeing the museum more as a community gathering place than just a place for people to go to look at historical artifacts,” says Blackburn. “It seems to be working.”
This past fall the Museum was nominated for a Campbell River Chamber of Commerce Award of Distinction, and although it didn’t win the award, Anderson says they were honoured to be among the three finalists in a category of over twenty non-profit organizations.
The museum was also nominated for a Soft Power Destination of the Year award. Again, the museum didn’t receive the award, but Anderson says being nominated shows that the work being done at the museum is being recognized internationally.
The Museum also continued to rank high on Trip Advisor, spending much of the year as the top-rated attraction in Campbell River and maintaining a position as one of the top history museums in the country.
“It will be hard to keep up the pace set in 2016,” Anderson says, “but already plans are underway for a notable 2017. Exhibits are in development stages about ‘Sybil Andrews and the War Years on the North Island.’
Living History Documentaries are also in the works on several topics of local interest, and the museum’s new totem pole will soon be ready.
Check out crmuseum.ca to keep up to date on programming, events and upcoming special exhibits at the museum as they move into their new year.