Swift Current Museum officially celebrates new location

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Scott Anderson
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A better showcase of Swift Current's history was formally opened on June 14 when the Swift Current Museum held a grand opening at their new location.

Swift Current Museum officially celebrates new location

A better showcase of Swift Current's history was formally opened on June 14 when the Swift Current Museum held a grand opening at their new location.

While they have been open at their 44 Robert St. W. location since May 1, 2007, a formal grand opening was delayed until all exhibit galleries could be completed.

Hugh Henry, Director and Curator of the Swift Current Museum, said the new facility allows them to better bring the city's rich history, both past and present, to life.

"Our focus is really on what's happening in Southwest Saskatchewan today. The whole concept of what museums are all about has to change. It's not just about old things and dusty things, but it's really got to bring relevance to people's lives today. And that's what keeps them coming and that's what engages them in making history. What happens today is tomorrow's history so it's important to talk about issues and events that are happening in Southwest Saskatchewan," Henry said.

Swift Current's first museum was hosted in the same building with Beatty Collegiate, and the Museum had been at their second home, the former Oddfellows Hall on Chaplin St., since 1974.

In the late 1990s the museum board began the process of looking for a new home, and one earlier study suggested they add a museum facility onto the R.C. Dahl Centre.

"The old one on Chaplin St. was not meeting the needs of a growing, progressive museum, and so we started investigating opportunities for a new facility, and that involved looking at some vacant buildings around town at that time."

Additional momentum built towards building a stand-alone facility, and when the City and the Credit Union were involved in a property transfer a series of years ago, the fate of the museum was decided.

"This building, one of the former Credit Union buildings, then became the home for the new Museum. The building was renovated to open up the space a little bit, to allow for exhibit space, gallery space, and some other programming areas."

After hiring an exhibit designer in 2005, the finalizing of the project took a few years for the concept and construction phase of the new museum.

"We've very pleased with this location…it's close to the highway. We're getting a lot of visitors off the highway for that reason. And of course Swift Current Tourism has their information centre here, and so people are stopping by to get information about camping, fishing, whatever in the Southwest part of the province. So we have a dual purpose now and ideally located for that."

Karl Basin, Chairperson of the Swift Current Museum Board, noted at the grand opening that the theme of the museum makes the museum more than just a re-telling of city history.

"In the main gallery you will see that the theme of the museum has a running theme through it - which is the historical relationship between man and his environment," he said.

"The Swift Current Museum is the family album of our community. I ask you not to leave this album in the closet gathering dust. I ask you to use your museum, to come to your museum often with family and friends, and utilize the museum staff and the programming that is offered."

Deputy Mayor Gord Budd said the museum will be a great way to help introduce Swift Current to visitors to the community.

"I've long been a proponent of a good museum in Swift Current. I always used to think the old museum downtown was one of our best kept secrets because anybody going by on the highway obviously couldn't see it. And that's one of the strengths of this place, I think, is the location of it."

The Museum's summer hours are Monday to Friday 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. on Thursday and Friday, plus 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. on weekends.

Organizations: Swift Current Museum, Credit Union, R.C. Dahl Centre

Geographic location: Swift Current, Southwest Saskatchewan

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