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Staff Profile: Joan Kanigan – Executive Director

Staff Profile Blog:  Joan Kanigan


I joined the Museum of Ontario Archaeology as Executive Director in May of 2012.  This was an exciting change for me as it allowed me to merge two of my passions – museums and archaeology.  What excites me most about working at MOA is that I believe museums can profoundly change people, and that MOA has tremendous potential to inspire the archaeologist in everyone.  Museums are great for unleashing our natural curiosity, expand our understanding, and, broaden our sense of place in the world.  What makes MOA unique is the connection the museum has to past human experiences.  I believe museums connect people through shared experiences, and through archaeology, we can connect with the countless generations that have come before us.

Since joining the MOA team, the museum has seen many changes.  With input from many community members, we redeveloped our mission statement to clearly articulate our “why” what we do is important.  We have also created a new logo to support our belief that archaeology is (first and foremost) about people and that the role of the museum is also (first and foremost) to serve people.  We will soon start planning for a complete redesign of the museum’s permanent exhibits and I am looking forward to involving the community throughout the planning and design phases.

As a museum manager, I am committed to increasing community engagement by providing opportunities for groups and individuals to share in organizational decision making, developing programs that meet identified community needs, and establishing partnerships that build capacity within the cultural sector.  I believe museums must be socially responsible institutions and serve the communities they represent and I am excited to be a part of making this happen for MOA.

Prior to joining MOA, I was Executive Director of the Brant Historical Society for 5 years and was responsible for the Brant Museum and Archives, Myrtleville House Museum and the Museum-in-the-Square.  Originally from Saskatchewan, I have always had a passion for heritage and non-profit organizations.   I’ve worked as a senior manager for over 18 years, working to improve not only the organizations I serve, but also the communities that they serve.

Before coming to Ontario, I served as Executive Director for the Museums Association of Saskatchewan (MAS). During that time I was responsible for overseeing the development of a new strategic plan, significant revisions to Saskatchewan’s Museum Grant Program, and the introduction of a marketing campaign to raise the profile of museums in the province. In 2004, I took a one-year leave of absence to serve as Heritage Policy Analyst for the Department of Culture, Youth and Recreation in the Government of Saskatchewan. During this time I redeveloped the Provincial Heritage Property Designation Program and establishing management options for the Saskatchewan Heritage Foundation and Claybank Brick Plant National Historic Site. Prior to working for MAS, I was the Executive Director of the Saskatchewan Organization for Heritage Languages.

I am an advocate of continual learning whether formally or informally.  Currently I’m studying to receive my Certified Association Executive designation through the Canadian Society of Association Executives.  I have a Master of Arts in Anthropology from Trent University, a Bachelor of Arts in Anthropology and Political Science from the University of Regina, and a Certificate in Museum Management and Curatorship from Sir Sandford Fleming College.  Informally, I read books and articles on topics of interest, following thought leaders (via social media) both within my industry and more widely in areas of leadership and management, and take advantage of opportunities to network with peers. I also like to take advantage of my daily commute which is about 45 min. each way to listen to audio recordings and podcasts.