Many museums in Ontario are challenged with lack of funding, which impacts their ability to keep their history and significance flourishing across generations.
The Stephen Leacock Museum in Orillia, widely known to most locals, faces some challenges of its own as it enters its 62nd year of operation.
“We’re constantly challenged to ensure we’re keeping things fresh and engaging. In an age of around the clock access and a seemingly endless amount of content being produced, the last thing any museum wants is to become a museum of itself. Again, we have to consider our funding and getting the best bang for our buck, but we also need to explore new ways we can get our messages across to the public in both our exhibit programming and our events,” enlightens Tom Rose, Collections and Program Supervisor.
Although there might be a slight decline in people’s knowledge about Leacock, the whole premise of the museum is to remind us that famous Canadians from our history deserve continued recognition.
“Our job here at the museum isn’t just to remind people that Leacock existed, but to celebrate the rich cultural history of our city. Whether you’re familiar with him or not, there are many aspects of the Leacock story that will resonate with people. Additionally, the story of this place isn’t just tied to Leacock’s work as much as the impact he had on the world. In his time, Leacock was the most famous humourist in the English-speaking world,” educates Rose.
The museum has been mandated to promote life-long learning and hosts numerous community events throughout the year. Its location is unique compared to other museums because its located on the picturesque waterfront of Lake Couchiching and is close to municipal trails.
“Along with 9.5 acres of lakefront property to maintain, we have three buildings on the property including the museum house itself, which require a lot of ongoing maintenance and upkeep. Any publicly-funded institution struggles with things such as stretching a budget to get the best value, or how to best divide limited staff time in a way that keeps the needs of the business in mind,” explains Rose.
Community members have always been an important part of the museum’s ability to preserve the site and continue hosting events and visitors, but it’s crucial the museum continues to receive support.
“If folks are interested in supporting the museum directly, we’ll be launching a new membership program very soon,” informs Rose. |
The museum can always use volunteers to help with programming and archives too.
“Sometimes, making a difference is as easy as taking a minute to communicate how important history and culture are to you by writing and phoning your city councillors, MPs, and MPPs. In order for places such as the Leacock Museum to stay vibrant and viable, we have to have community buy-in. If the community isn’t passionate about preserving its history, then places like this start to disappear,” elaborates Rose.
Remember why museums exist, and support our local and national history.
Leacock Museum National Historic Site, Orillia