Shuttered for 18 months, Mattawa’s museum staff are eager to reopen their doors and welcome guests back to their exhibits. And this Saturday they are doing so in grand style, with a brand-new show to greet visitors.
Entitled Community, the exhibit highlights the recent history of the area, with emphasis on overcoming the flood in May, 2019, and the waves of Coronavirus that followed in the flood’s wake.
Judy Toupin, the museum’s curator, remembers she had just started on with the museum when the waters began to rise.
“I don’t think the ink had dried on my contract when the water went up,” and “all things were cancelled” at the museum for over eight weeks, including fundraising events, while the town worked on recovery.
“Most times when you go to a museum you see old things,” she deadpanned, and that remains the case for other exhibits in the space. However, for this new show, Toupin wanted to reflect on how the community has dealt with these two major life altering events.
“So, what we’re doing in this exhibit is capturing all of that and our journey,” she said. “It’s about the resiliency of a small community, and how we bounce back and help each other.”
“I picked the starting point of the flood because that is where you really saw the community come together and help each other, and that really impressed me.”
The exhibit is “very personal” to the community, and presents the past few years in photographs, writing, and video “so people can watch our journey.”
“It’s a dedication to our essential workers, and it’s a dedication to our community,” she said.
Visitors to the museum must provide their contact information, as per Provincial health regulations, and museum staff will enter those names into a draw to win gift certificates from local businesses.
The museum purchased the certificates to encourage local spending and help neighbours during the recovery. They will “continue that throughout the summer,” Toupin said.
The museum opens July 17 at 9:30 a.m. with a maximum occupancy of 20 guests.
David Briggs is a Local Journalism Initiative reporter who works out of BayToday, a publication of Village Media. The Local Journalism Initiative is funded by the Government of Canada.