Predicting the future of a historical museum

Psst: The Manitoba Museum wants to hear from you.

Founded in 1972, the much-vaunted emporium of historical fact and scientific enlightenment opens up the public’s voice to help strategize for its next 50 years and beyond, said Dorota Blumczynska, CEO of the museum.

Until July 31, the museum is collecting responses to a survey on the future of the museum and the priorities of its visitors to The short survey will be a vital tool in assessing what the public expects of the museum, where it is doing a good job, and where it needs realignment or improvement in its approach to preserving the history of the province and the territory.

Every museum visitor is looking for a specific experience, says Blumczynska. Some want to learn. Some want to be entertained. Some want to be propelled into action. Others may need a productive way to spend the afternoon. Regardless, it is important for the museum to discuss with visitors how these experiences can each be improved or adapted to meet modern expectations.

“We want to better understand how Manitobans feel about entering this space and what they value most about these experiences,” she added.

The survey and its potential ideological updates coincide with the physical updates the museum has undertaken in recent years. Over the past few months, the museum has undergone a major capital renewal project which has seen several galleries rebuilt or added. Long-time staples like the Prairie Gallery got a much-needed update, while spaces like the Winnipeg Gallery were brand new creations.

“We had some galleries added where the space had once been used for storage,” says Blumczynska, who joined the museum as CEO in May 2021.

“But those changes were in the brick and mortar. They were in the structure,” she adds. “This conversation (which the museum calls a listening tour) is about hearing from Manitobans where they want the museum to go and how that can have the greatest impact.”

The panel discussions will include contributions from teachers, donors and researchers, among other groups, while Blumczynska says the museum has already created a separate panel discussion to highlight input from its Indigenous advisory circle. Past presidents and board members will also have the opportunity to share their thoughts, though Blumczynska says that’s the audience the museum needs to come forward and speak out.

“We really cast our net very far, to get as many experiences as possible,” she says.

Because Manitobans love prizes, anyone who completes the survey is entered to win prizes including luxury hotel stay packages, tickets to a Winnipeg Jets game, fine dining, shopping or a family membership to the museum.

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Ben Waldman

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Patrick F. Williams