Ground zero was April 2016. The Museum Renovation Project was taken on by a small group of people with no formal museum background or training. An interest in history: sure. One may even say a passion in some cases. An appreciation of the Regiment: absolutely! A fearless approach to taking on new tasks: you betcha.
Our intrepid group dove in (quite literally). The team had backgrounds in logistics, administration, project management and even disaster management... surely this was a solid foundation? It quickly became apparent that it was not.
Our confidence gradually eroded (sometimes crashed) as we began to appreciate the extent of what we didn't know... not to mention the sheer scope of work before us.
The project chugged along, focussing first more on physical work: creating a functional storage space, rationalizing inventory holdings and setting aside artefacts requiring safer keeping… modernizing operations. This was no small task. It also created an explosion of activity (and dust, garbage, recycling) at the Minto Armouries where we are located in Winnipeg.
At this same time, we also started to attract the interest of folks who had been along the periphery of the Museum. Liking what they saw, we were incredibly fortunate to attract volunteers with depth and breadth in archives, historical research and conservation. Enter: the Empress Dragon - Guardian of the Archives; the Highland Historian; and, the Queen of Conservation. This is when the rubber hit the road and the project really took off. We'd also still be mired in the weeds without our Assistant Curator, Small Arms and Heavy Objects. A further shout-out must go to Manitoba Museum curators who were able to offer advice, allay our fears and confirm our suspicions all in one go.
This blog series covers highlights, funny stories and lessons learned from our museum renovation project. We hope that you enjoy!