A Small Museum Has Heart

by Laureen on August 21, 2013

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The Little Brick Schoolhouse

On the outside it’s a little brick schoolhouse. On the inside it’s so much more. Val Marie is home to Prairie Wind & Silver Sage, one of the busiest small museums in the province. You should see that old building hum!

It’s a museum. It’s two art exhibition spaces. It’s a gift shop specializing in high-quality Grasslands gifts. It’s one of the last independent bookstores in Saskatchewan (with the same kind of quality and focus as the gift shop). It’s an espresso bar with wonderful treats. (Lattes! Brownies! Internet!) PWSS has always been an interesting spot. And it’s just getting better all the time.

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Ecomuseum exhibition (Photo: Pamela Woodland)

Take the museum exhibition. In early 2012, PWSS’s board of directors decided to turn the museum into an ecomuseum, with goals of fostering a culture of sustainability and bringing people together to make informed, fair, and democratic decisions about their local cultural and natural heritage. After months of hard work by dedicated and talented volunteers, the ecomuseum first phase is completed, highlighting the unique character of the Grasslands, Val Marie and the surrounding area through a combination of artifacts, mapping, photography, sound and stories. The exhibition is beautiful and varied and you will find many things to be surprised and pleased about. And maybe there is some history – or some bird songs – even you don’t know! Support for the new exhibition by SaskCulture and Saskatchewan Lotteries is gratefully acknowledged.

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2013 summer event (Photo: Robert Harwood)

Take this summer’s public program events. Art exhibition openings for Gerri Ann Siwek and Robert Postma. A visit by Margaret Atwood and Graeme Gibson in June. The museum exhibition launch in July. Summer Science Talks on evenings throughout the summer, about grazing and Grasslands songbirds, prairie dogs and black-footed ferrets, mushrooms in Grasslands National Park, and the Swift Fox’s return. Hundreds of people have been present and enjoyed the space and each other and learned and had fun.

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2013 summer visitors (Photo: Pamela Woodland)

Take those visitor attendance numbers. With a month left to go in the 2013 season, Prairie Wind & Silver Sage has already matched last year’s visitor totals and is expecting more. At almost 3,500 people coming to call, that makes it one of the most-used small sites in the province. This museum in a town of about 110 people has a lot of heart.

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The shop

Take the shop. Is there another museum in Saskatchewan where you can find prairie facts and photographs and poetry, Internet and espresso, stuffed toys in the shapes of bison and prairie dogs and black-footed ferrets? Offered by friendly and knowledgeable staff who happily share your enthusiasm for this beautiful region? And who do so seven days a week from May to September?

Really, it’s an amazing wee place. PWSS is the result of commitment by many people, yesterday, today and tomorrow. The Val Marie region has a rich cultural and natural history and those of us who live here are proud of it. We’re really glad so many people from so many other parts of the world love it too.

Prairie Wind & Silver Sage remains open from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., seven days a week until September 7, then Friday to Monday every weekend until September 22. Hope to see you there!

For more about life in Val Marie, click here.

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Know someone who’d like to see this? Please feel free to pass it on!

The blog is a series of posts from one artist/art gallery owner’s life in her community in one of Canada’s most beautiful and remote wilderness regions. To receive updates with beautiful images, stories about the Grasslands and its artists and inspiration every week, just put your email in the box on the right. We never share your email address.

         

Pam August 23, 2013 at 10:17 am

Great summary and description of it’s charms, Laureen.

Laureen August 23, 2013 at 12:25 pm

It is a charming place 🙂

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