In an effort to share more of what they have with the community at large, the Red Deer Museum + Art Gallery has launched MAG Centre, an artifact lending library.
The library features a selection of more than 500 museum study collection items, staff say. Teachers, schools and local community groups will have access to objects and specialized kits related to a range of themes, whether in the classroom or by visiting the Museum.
“The extraordinary thing about a museum is that you can learn directly from objects,” said Lorna Johnson, the Museum’s executive director. “So what we’ve been working on is having a group of objects that are accessible to teachers and community groups to borrow, take into classrooms and use for object-based learning.
“It’s a new initiative that we are piloting, and we will revise it based on the feedback that we get. We really want people to see how much they can learn from these objects, and how exciting it is for young people especially to see the real thing.”
Abbey Cruikshank, a history educator at the Museum, said she went through school curriculum to check out all of the topics and themes that are covered and then went from there. “I looked through our collections, and matched from them what would fit with the curriculum, so things would be directly related to what was going on with the curriculum.”
MAG Central also fits in with Alberta Education’s push to see more project-based learning in classrooms. “That concept fits really well with this because these are objects that can sit in a classroom for a week at a time, and teachers can use them as they see fit.
“Or it can be presented in a single 45-minute presentation – whatever works best with a teacher’s schedule.”
The objects have all been labeled as well. There’s everything from all kinds of household items to even some Central American artifacts.
Cruikshank said that global/cultural understanding is also a major focus of Alberta Education these days too. “So having these artifacts in front of students gives them that chance to look at them, interact with them and experience them in a really positive way. And it encourages them to learn more and go further.
“It’s a lot more exciting to learn about history when you have an object to hold onto.”
The potential reach of the program is huge – there are more than 15,000 students within the boundaries of Red Deer not to mention thousands in the surrounding areas as well. “It’s just another way for us to be able to invite the public to interact with the collection,” said Karin Richardson-MacKenzie, the Museum’s coordinator of marketing and development.
Cruikshank agreed. “While we have selected a number of things, there are a number of things that I haven’t even dug through back there that could still be put in. And as more material comes into the Museum, there will be an ever-growing library of things.”
Meanwhile, there are number of day camps set to run at the Red Deer Museum + Art Gallery for local students including ‘Myths and Legends’, ‘Pirates’, ‘Inventor’s Workshop’ and ‘A Pioneer Christmas’. Check out www.reddeermuseum.com or call 403-309-8405 for various dates and times.