Reflections on aMUSE
aMUSE has definitely been an on-going five-year experiment. It has had so many incarnations – from museum party to simple and small exhibition to outdoor beach-invasion. The one thing that has been consistent through our five-years of popping up around the community is that aMUSE brings objects from the Museum’s collection out into community spaces around the city.
The series was created in response to the idea that the Museum is viewed by many in the community as important but not a part of their daily lives. Many believe we are an important institution in the community but can’t identify what we do or what kinds of objects we have in the collection. We think its vitally important to get our collection out and seen by the people for whom we steward those very objects.
Our pop-up was definitely an outside-the-box idea. If it took us a long time to figure out what we were doing, it took even longer for the community to figure out what aMUSE was all about. Isn’t that a classic and persistent theme for outside-the-box ideas? It’s not supposed to fit a mold or be easy to wrap your brain around the idea.
aMUSE was always fun. It evolved with every new artifact and every new location. It presented challenges for us as museum workers, and presented mind-changing ideas, narratives, and themes to new and expanding audiences.
Five years later, the community, even if not sure of what we were doing, were and are so and completely supportive of aMUSE.
Five years later, with over 15 pop-up’s and over 300 artifacts later, we are getting ready to say ‘farewell’ to aMUSE.
aMUSE has been and is a huge success. We are incredibly happy and proud and we feel that it has accomplished all we set out to do with the series. Increasing the visibility of the Museum and its collection in the community, along with reaching new audiences were our foremost goals, and we achieved those goals time and time again. We’ve made new friends, secured new partnerships, and found new supporters.
But what’s that old saying? “All good things must come to an end”? I think we usually use that phrase when something great ends unexpectedly. But we went into 2017, – the fifth year of aMUSE, the 50th anniversary of the Museum, and the 150th anniversary of Confederation – with the idea that we had done with aMUSE what we had set out to do. In a year of anniversaries, we think it right to bring aMUSE to an end and begin planning our next outside-the-box idea(s).
As a part of our farewell tour, we’re bringing back some of our favourites (the Market, Rodman Hall, and Mahtay Cafe & Lounge) and we’re sharing the collection in some new spaces (the Pen Centre and Lock Street Brewing Company). We’ll explore plenty of narratives from farming in St. Catharines to shopping in St. Catharines to never-before-seen photographs, and much more.
If you have a special memory of aMUSE make sure to share it on our Facebook page so we can gather them up and share them at our final aMUSE in November.
You can listen to our favourite aMUSE memories via our first Museum Chat Live! podcast episode:
We very much hope to see you during the aMUSE farewell tour.
Adrian Petry is a public historian and Visitor Services Coordinator at the St. Catharines Museum and Welland Canals Centre.