The Greater Vernon Museum and Archives (Museum) is changing to modernize its programming, take steps toward a new vision, and improve its current financial position.
To do so, the museum will undergo restructuring to reduce annual staffing costs and focus on increased interactivity of its exhibits, programs and events.
“We have an impressive collection and one of the most robust archives in the province for an organization our size,” said Steve Fleck, the museum’s executive director. “Unfortunately, in recent years, the museum has struggled to actively engage the community. As a result, visitation rates are low, and our programming attracts limited audiences.”
Historically, the museum focused on collecting, preserving, managing and exhibiting its extensive collection of artifacts and archives. However, to capture the attention of the community and offer meaningful programming for diverse interests, the museum recognizes the need to make significant operational adjustments.
“The evolving direction of the museum will focus on people by telling heritage-based stories that weave the lives of community members into the interpretation of larger historical events,” said Fleck.
“In doing this work, we will not shy away from exploring sensitive and difficult issues; and our programs and exhibits will be guided by contemporary topics that speak to diverse public interests. This direction is consistent with the goals of the Greater Vernon Cultural Plan and public interests as we move toward a new cultural centre.”
To undertake this work, the museum requires significant restructuring.
“Our organization requires new multifaceted roles focused on facilitating learning, providing opportunities for public participation, and telling the stories of local history,” said Fleck. “We will move away from preparing static displays, and instead offer interactivity, socialization, and a cultural experience. To provide service in this way, we need to redesign ourselves.”
The museum gave working notice to all staff but the executive director, with the intention of moving from five-and-a-half full-time positions to four, redesigned positions. The smaller team of new positions will focus on active community engagement. Existing staff will be encouraged to apply for these redesigned positions. During this transitional period, the GVMA board of directors and executive director will strive to provide uninterrupted regular services.
“The current staff members have made significant contributions to historical knowledge and community services for generations,” said Fleck. “Their efforts over the years made a difference in many lives. But the restructure is necessary at this time to ensure our organization operates within budget and offers up to date services and resources to meet current public interests.”
To develop strategies to support its new direction, the museum recently contracted a consultant to develop an updated strategic plan. The plan development will include public involvement to ensure the new programming addresses community expectations.
“We look forward to hearing from the community and forming new relationships with citizens and local businesses,” stated Fleck.