Four Years at MOA, by Joan Kanigan
It is with a combined sense of anticipation and regret that I prepare my final blog for the Museum of Ontario Archaeology. I am proud of what the museum has been able to accomplish over the past 4 years and my decision to leave was difficult. As I write this blog, our Summer Camp program is completely full, the roof and HVAC systems are being replaced, and we are in the process of adding movable shelving in the collection storage room. So much has changed over the past four years that I wanted to take this opportunity to review and celebrate what has been accomplished as the museum prepares to develop exciting new exhibits, increase community partnerships, and improve the management of the Lawson Site.
My first year at MOA was one of reflection, rebuilding, starting with the development of a new mission statement that would align the museum’s research, collection, and public mandates. The new mission not only clarified our focus to advance our understanding of Ontario’s archaeological heritage, but more importantly articulated our ultimate goal of inspiring appreciation and respect for Ontario’s cultural diversity. There was also an emphasis on strengthening MOA’s foundation by redeveloping many of the museum’s policies to reflect changing expectations and incorporate best practices into how the museum functions.
There was a more visible change at the museum during my second year when we redeveloped the museum’s logo and brand. MOA’s logo reflects our belief that archaeology is (first and foremost) about people and conveys the sense of excitement and adventure that we want people to experience when they visit. This change lead to a steady increase in volunteers, tours, and school groups at MOA. A new membership program was also launched at the end of the year as we continued to look for ways to actively engage with members. At this time the Board approved a new strategic plan that focused on sustainability and creating exceptional experiences for visitors.
There was a big push during the 2014/2015 year to improve our collection storage, digitize collection records; add interactive components in our gallery; and develop a better understanding of the current condition of the Lawson Site. We also increased online content through regular blog posts about what is happening at the museum, added downloadable teaching resources and videos to our website, and launched our on-line Gift Shop and Adopt an Artifact program. Launching the on-line collections database was particularly exciting as it allowed us to give people access to many of the objects in our collection that are currently not on display.
The past year has seen tremendous growth in the museum’s reach through our social channels and community outreach. This year we established a strong partnership with Huron College and First Nations studies at Western University that have resulted in major exhibits at the museum. Staff have also been updating MOA’s permanent exhibits and we’ve increased opportunities for students in various programs to complete internships and research projects at the museum. Particularly exciting is the partnership being developed with the Huron-Wendat Nation and the Jesuits in English Canada to create a Community Memories exhibit about Ste. Marie II. MOA has also more actively promote the work of Ontario Archaeological Society Chapters and has built engaged communities through a variety of ways – social media, our electronic newsletter, our web site, and programming.
Looking forward, I believe that MOA will continue building exceptional experiences that excite and inspire people to become actively engaged in how we build appreciation and respect for Ontario’s diverse cultural heritage. I have been fortunate to work with a dedicated and supportive Board of Directors along with a supportive community.
The staff and volunteers at the museum are truly amazing and none of what has been accomplished during the past four years would have been possible without them.
It has been a privilege to serve the museum and everyone involved. Thank you.