Museums Association of Saskatchewan
Saskatchewan is full of history, from its noteworthy people to ancient landmarks to the famous stories of old that have shaped the province. As the umbrella organization for all of the public museums in the province, the Museums Association of Saskatchewan (MAS) helps to preserve this history.
“A museum in many ways is like the memory of a person, both long-term and short-term memory,” said MAS Executive Director Wendy Fitch. “A person who can’t access their memories for any reason isn’t able to function fully. A community isn’t really complete unless it’s able to access those memories.”
Fitch adds that museums contribute to the quality of life in a community in numerous ways. “If a museum is doing its job well, it’s going to reflect whoever comes to visit. If that visitor is a young person, an Indigenous person or someone from a visible minority, or a newcomer, they should be able to see themselves reflected in what’s presented. On a practical level, museums are also a gathering place in a lot of communities.”
MAS is a non-profit, collective organization of over 250 member museums and a total membership of over 400, including individuals and associates. Their members span the nine sport, culture and recreation districts throughout the province and include flagship museums such as the Saskatchewan Western Development Museum, Royal Saskatchewan Museum and MacKenzie Art Gallery, all the way to small rural volunteer-run community museums.
To ensure people can access the memories of the provinces, MAS works at strengthening Saskatchewan museums through a variety of education, advisory, resource and networking programs.
One of the association’s main purposes is to provide professional development and training so its members can provide stewardship and access for the heritage community in the province. MAS hosts many training events, both in person and online. In 1988, MAS produced the first set of standards for museums in the province and is currently finalizing the fifth edition.
To be more accessible to visitors in this digital age, MAS is also encouraging its members to explore new platforms.
“More and more museums these days have an online exhibit. The Gabriel Dumont Institute has a wonderful physical exhibit on the history of the Métis in Saskatchewan and an accompanying online exhibit,” Fitch said. “It makes it so much richer. There are now so many ways of sharing the stories of Saskatchewan.”
Fitch said that without Saskatchewan Lotteries funding through SaskCulture Inc., MAS likely wouldn’t exist.
“All of my colleagues across the country are very jealous, because we have stable funding. It isn’t necessarily able to cover all of the expenses, but it means you have a baseline,” says Fitch. “The Museum Grant Program provides operational funding to over 100 museums. A lot of museums would not be able to do their job and provide the connection with who we are if it weren’t for the lottery system.”
For more information on the Museums Association of Saskatchewan visit www.saskmuseums.org.
SaskCulture - thanks to the Saskatchewan Lotteries Trust Fund for Sport, Culture and Recreation - provides funding to a wide range of cultural groups and activities in the province, including museums. Together, with organizations, such as the Museums Association of Saskatchewan, we are building a culturally vibrant Saskatchewan. Culture Builds Community! Learn more at www.saskculture.sk.ca.