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Sault Ste. Marie Museum aims to broaden its audience with new events and exhibits

Museum’s plans for August and coping with COVID restrictions

The Sault Ste. Marie Museum recently announced it will be hosting a trivia night and youth workshop. These and other events mark a shift in the Museum’s programming where they seem to be aiming to diversify the age of their audience.

The trivia night will be held three times between late July and August. It is organized in partnership with OutSpoken Brewing and will be held on their patio.

Speaking with SooToday, Outreach and Programming Coordinator Katie Huckson said “it’s a fundraiser for the Museum but OutSpoken runs the bar.”

The trivia will consist of several categories, with each team winning points for correct answers. In the final round, contestants will be able to wager some or all of their points (inspired by Jeopardy).

Questions will be written and presented by Museum staff.

"The workshop invites youths ages 10-16 to learn about art, design, and curation basics, techniques and terminology while exploring how art intersects with and records community history,” says a media release from the museum. It will draw on a current exhibit called Art and Artifact.

Meanwhile, the Museum is working on a paint night. Huckson said it will be “almost like the workshop except geared to adults.” 

Those looking for more traditional displays will soon be able to see a Bon Soo exhibit thanks to recent donations from the local winter carnival.

"We got a huge donation from Bon Soo this year… Lots of photos, lots of old buttons and clothing and even video from the Bon Soo pageants,” Huckson said. 

The exhibit on francophone culture, Une balade à Frenchtown, which had been closed due to COVID restrictions, will enjoy an extended opening.

Collectively, these events represent a change in direction for the Museum— aiming for a diverse age range in those who attend. Huckson attributes this shift to new management:

Will Hollingshead stepped in as Executive Director and Chief Curator just over a year ago. “That’s definitely a goal of his,” she said. “That it’s relevant to people of all ages and bringing new people in through the door.”

According to a publication from Tulane University in New Orleans, a museum curator usually ensures artifacts are properly cared for and have proper documentation.

“For any museum, attracting visitors is essential... However, their work doesn't stop once they build an impressive collection. They have to continue to bring in new artwork and other displays to keep things fresh and draw in repeat visitors.”

More generally, the Sault Museum is coping with changing COVID restrictions. 

“It’s been really difficult for us because obviously, we’re not getting the volume of people we could let in, as we normally would,” said Huckson. “So we’ve been trying to pivot to do more things online.”

She pointed to the Bon Soo and Art and Artifacts exhibits as examples.

The coordinator noted that this online work also satisfies their goal to appeal to an audience outside of Sault Ste. Marie. 

In a similar vein, the Museum is partnering with other organizations also handling pandemic-era restrictions.

Fringe North announced that it will be holding a virtual festival in late August. Huckson said that the Museum will “have a screen [and seats] outside in the parking lot… and there will be live streams of fringe events playing.”