From childhood museum visits to CEO of Western Development Museum, Joan Kanigan has a lifelong passion for heritage

joan-kanigan-editJoan Kanigan, Chief Executive Officer of the Western Development Museum, has always had a passion for museums and heritage. Some of her earliest memories are of visiting museums in Regina with her family, learning about the world around her and what life was like in the past.

“Museums are places of connection and not only was I connecting with my family, I was developing a broader understanding of the world and our place in it,” said Joan.

She grew up to earn a Master of Arts degree at Trent University followed by a graduate certificate in Museum Management and Curatorship at Fleming College.

“What I enjoyed most was that almost all of our classes were held in the Peterborough Museum & Archives,” said Joan about her Fleming College experience.

“Everything we were taught was complemented with actual experience,” she said. “For example, instead of just talking about how to design exhibits, we got to create an exhibit for the museum– right from conception to opening it to the public. The hands-on experience, which is part of the program, was very valuable.”

Joan, who graduated from Fleming College in 1995, said she recommends this program because it is an excellent introduction to all facets of museology.

“What I appreciated most about the program was the practical skills that we learnt in addition to the theoretical background. It’s one thing to talk about how to do something and another to have the opportunity to learn by doing.”

22 years after graduating from Fleming College, Joan is now CEO of the Western Development Museum, which has four museum branches throughout Saskatchewan. Joan is responsible for providing strategic leadership and management in the areas of financial, risk and facilities management; board administration and support; fundraising; program and service delivery; people leadership and community relations.

Recently she amalgamated the collections, conservation, and research departments into a single curatorial department, which is a change Joan is proud to have implemented.  “The excitement the staff involved in this change are bringing to the process is incredibly rewarding,” she said. “It is amazing to see how much creativity and passion has been unleashed by bringing these departments together. Everyone is working more collaboratively and there is a real sense of purpose being shown by everyone in the department.”

Her advice to current students is to never stop learning. “Since graduating, I have continually worked to develop new skills and gain a greater understanding of governance, leadership and management,” said Joan.

“The skills and knowledge you gain through formal education is just the beginning,” she added. “I have been working for non-profits and museums for over 20 years and there is still so much more learning and development I can do to better serve my organization and our communities.”

Collaboration is key for Conservation graduates

alison-and-priscilla-blogConservation is a collaborative effort for Conservator Alison Freake and Conservation Intern Priscilla Lo at the Provincial Archives of Alberta.

Both are graduates of Fleming College’s recently renamed Cultural Heritage Conservation and Management program, which trains students in preserving various aspects of arts and heritage for future generations. Priscilla graduated in 2016 from the Cultural Heritage Conservation and Management program and Alison finished what was then called Collections Conservation and Management in 2001.

“Fleming graduates have a solid understanding of the materials they are working with and an eagerness to learn as much as they can in order to do the best job,” said Alison, who is mentoring fellow Fleming grad Priscilla. “There is a willingness to take part in broader activities and an awareness of the importance of institutional workflow and how we, as conservators, are able to contribute in so many different areas.”

As a conservator, Alison is responsible for the physical condition of records held by the Provincial Archives of Alberta, which includes: manuscripts, bound volumes, photographic prints and negatives, maps, architectural renderings and other archival materials. She is involved with exhibit design and installation, site visits, preservation training, collection evaluations, and special events, and teaches workshops for the Archives Society of Alberta and various post-secondary institutions.

Alison said her Fleming education is relevant and helpful to her career, and its holistic approach to collections care has proven useful as her job duties have expanded. Her program internship also helped her gain real world experience that proved beneficial down the line.

“My internship project was the assessment of a parchment collection for the Provincial Archives of Newfoundland and Labrador (now The Rooms – Provincial Archives Division), which was very relevant to my position at the Archives,” she said.

Alison moved to Peterborough for her graduate certificate after completing a Bachelor of Arts in Archaeology at Memorial University of Newfoundland. Her advice to current students is to be prepared to move around, get involved in the conservation community, and remember the importance of relationships.

“The Fleming conservation community is a very strong presence in our field, since there are graduates working in many heritage/memory institutions in various capacities. As a profession, it is important to have our members participate in a collegial manner, and the common educational background plays a substantial role in our community,” said Alison, who is the current President of the Canadian Association for Conservation of Cultural Property.

Alison enjoys welcoming recent graduates into the field through mentorship. She is currently mentoring 2015 graduate Priscilla Lo, who is interning at the Provincial Archives of Alberta through the Young Canada Works Post-Graduate Internship.

“Priscilla has been a great deal of fun to work with!” said Alison. “The Young Canada Works Post-Graduate Internship is meant to give a boost in practical application of skills in a larger institution and she has been doing a great job in the conservation lab. She seems to be enjoying her time here, so my goal is to make sure she gets what she needs from us, even while her work plays such an important role in our preservation program.”

Priscilla is responsible for treatment, collections care, and outreach projects such as repairing glass plate negatives, item-level collection assessment and treatment of paper-based records, as well as taking part in site visits and facility tours. Like Alison, Priscilla said her Fleming College education is useful in her job.

“In our course on paper objects, we had the chance to carry out treatments on a paper object of our choice. The practical skills I learned while doing this treatment gave me experience to work on treating paper objects at my current job,” she said.

Priscilla added that she still uses her class notes from school and encourages current students to take lots of photos and extensive notes while doing treatments. “You may use a technique or method later on in the future for a similar object,” she said. “Also, keep all your notes– the group notes compilation will help you greatly in the future!”

Priscilla is enjoying her internship experience thus far, especially being mentored by Alison.

“It’s encouraging because Alison is so good at what she does and she’s been at the Archives for so long,” said Priscilla. “She’s a great mentor and encourages discussion whenever possible. She’s genuinely interested in helping me strengthen my skills and my portfolio.”

Priscilla hopes to pay it forward one day and be a mentor herself to pass on her knowledge and skills to an emerging conservator.

#AllAccessPass: Fleming College grad brings Whyte Museum to social media

meghan-walshWhile many may view the museum world as artifacts behind glass, hushed tones and closed doors, Meghan Walsh hopes to change that.

The Museum Management and Curatorship graduate, Class of 2016, is the Digital Content Coordinator at the Whyte Museum of the Canadian Rockies in Banff, Alberta. In her newly created role within the Marketing Department, Meghan manages the Museum’s Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Blogger pages, creating engaging content for events, exhibitions and services.

“Social media has a huge impact on the museum world,” said Meghan. “It’s opened up not only the reach of museums in regards to marketing and advertising for events and services, but it’s opened up the possibility of access to the amazing collections that museums have.”

Meghan added that this online space for interaction has proved beneficial, saying, “We’ve had many people contact us through social media, providing us with information about an archival photo we posted that we can then add to our database records. The potential is truly endless.”

The Fleming College graduate said her favourite part of the job is exploring behind-the-scenes at the Whyte Museum.

“We’ve experimented with two Facebook Live video sessions, giving people behind-the-scenes tours of exhibits as they are installed and afterwards,” said Meghan. “I was also lucky enough to accompany our Curatorial Assistant on a tour of the collections facility with a group of immigrant women from all over the world participating in a writing workshop called the Shoe Project. Seeing the women’s reactions to some of the artifacts, eager to learn more about the stories behind them, was fantastic to see.”

Although this is Meghan’s first time working in the Marketing Department, it is not her first time working at the Whyte Museum. The Museum Management and Curatorship grad completed her Fleming College program internship there, gaining experience in the Heritage/Art Department and the Archives/Library Department.

“The staff were amazing and really mentored me– not only in the technical skills that I needed to do my job, but also in the career skills needed to succeed in my future career,” she said.

After graduating from Fleming College, Meghan worked as the Curatorial Assistant for the City of Greater Sudbury Museums on a one-year contract and then took a six-month contract at the Whyte Museum, where she worked as the Collections Management Coordinator for the Alpine Club of Canada Library Collection. From there, she stayed on at the Whyte Museum in the new Digital Content Coordinator position.

“The Museum Management and Curatorship program at Fleming definitely prepared me for my current position,” said Meghan. “The simple fact that I had the chance to learn about social media in museums first-hand through the Education and Public Programming course of the MMC program gave me great experience. It was also basically what initially planted the seed in my brain about the potential behind social media in museums.’

‘Also, the experience that I gained in the MMC program in regards to all the different departments of a museum gave me an advantage because Marketing and Communications does deal with every department and it’s important to have a basic understanding of how they function and what their purpose is,” she said.

‘Everything is Awesome’ for Valedictorian Kaitlin Crow

kaitlin-crow-blogKaitlin Crow’s theme song for her time at Fleming College is “Everything is Awesome” from The Lego Movie.

“In the Museum Management and Curatorship program, there was a lot of group work,” said Kaitlin, who is graduating from the program next week at convocation. “A running joke in our class was when the instructor came around to ask how everything was going, we would sing back the ‘Everything is Awesome’ song. It worked, ‘Everything is cool when you’re part of a team.’”

Kaitlin describes her experience at Fleming as intense and rewarding. “This program was incredible in providing me with a wide array of skills that are extremely beneficial in the museum field,” said Kaitlin, who learned how to budget, apply for grants and run financials, and properly care for objects, among other skills.

She recommends the Museum Management and Curatorship program to anyone interested in the heritage sector because it provides hands-on experience and is taught by instructors who are experts in the field.

Kaitlin came to Fleming College after earning her undergraduate degree at Trent University. “I had heard through my university that Fleming had the best museum management program in Ontario,” she said. “I was already in love with the Peterborough community and this program allowed me to stay involved while pursuing a career in the heritage sector.”

Now that she is done classes, Kaitlin is working as the Educational Coordinator at Backus-Page House Museum. She will be returning to campus next week for convocation on Tuesday, June 6, where she will serve as Valedictorian at the 10 a.m. ceremony.

“I want my fellow graduates to remember to never stop learning on a day-to-day, whether it is through a conversation with a peer or if it means going back to school,” said Kaitlin. “Learning is what life is about.”

Valedictorian Emily Stonehouse returns home to Haliburton for her dream career


Emily Stonehouse was at a bit of a crossroads when she first came to the Haliburton School of Art + Design, but now she is graduating from the Digital Image Design program as Valedictorian.

“The school really changed me and the people are all so amazing, it will be awesome to share my experiences and reflect on the past few months with some amazing and talented grads,” said Emily, who will be delivering her speech at the convocation ceremony on Friday, May 26. “I hope they realize how unique and talented they all are, and that their contribution to the arts world (and the real world) is so important.”

Emily returned to her hometown of Haliburton to regroup and figure out her next steps in life. She had previously attended the University of Ottawa, earning her Honours Bachelor of Arts with a Specialization in Communications; worked and travelled; and did academic upgrading, with a focus on Indigenous Women’s Studies, at Memorial University in Newfoundland.

“I wasn’t exactly sure what I wanted to do with my life, but I knew I was looking for the opportunity to express my creativity, so I found out about this program and it looked like a perfect combination between creativity and application,” said Emily.

The small class sizes meant more one-on-one attention and skill development. “The focus in my program was primarily digital. We spent a lot of time learning about Photoshop, which I look back on now and remember being terrified to learn about, but I am beyond comfortable with the program now,” said Emily. “We also dabbled in photography, videography, narratives, and traditional arts.”

She recommends this program to others, describing it as “very current and allows you to keep up in this ever-changing technological world.”

Emily also appreciates the supportive, inclusive, and creative campus community at the Haliburton School of Art + Design. Her most memorable experience was facing her fear and participating in an open mic, playing guitar and singing a song she wrote. “I was terrified but the school environment is so supportive, it was exactly what I needed to finally do it,” she said.

After completing her program at Fleming’s Haliburton Campus, Emily was hired as the new Business Manager/Experience Facilitator at Yours Outdoors, a local tourism organization.

“I get to take the skills I learned about the digital world and start to use them to develop a broader clientele,” said Emily, who also facilitates local experiences with artists and adventurers. “I spend my days in arts studios or climbing trees, or hiking or in a canoe—it’s a dream!”

In her spare time, Emily writes for the local newspaper, adding, “I am just trying to become as involved in the community as possible, and combine everything I’ve learned and loved into a lifestyle and career.”

Bridging the gap between theory and practice, Cayla Morency takes Museum Management and Curatorship

Cayla Morency/ Photo Credit: Tina Kyriakakis
Cayla Morency/ Photo Credit: Tina Kyriakakis

Cayla Morency wanted to bridge the gap between the research and writing skills she developed in university with the practical world of museums and heritage organizations. That is why she decided to enroll in Fleming College’s Museum Management and Curatorship graduate certificate.

“Put simply, I had heard that Fleming’s Museum Management and Curatorship program was the best,” said Cayla, who has a Bachelor of Arts in History from the University of Ottawa and Master of Arts in History from the University of Windsor.

She was intrigued by the program’s partnership with the Peterborough Museum & Archives and, after seven years of post-secondary education, the condensed nature of the program was attractive. “It turned out to be the best way to spend a year!” said Cayla, who is graduating from Fleming College this summer.

Cayla describes her Fleming College experience as fantastic and that Museum Management and Curatorship instructors – who have real industry experience – are excellent. Through group projects, including a temporary exhibit installed at the Peterborough Museum & Archives, Cayla developed teamwork skills and gained the hands-on experience she needed.

“The final exhibition, applied projects at local heritage institutions, and the curriculum-based internship provided the opportunity to put into practice the skills we had learned throughout the program,” said Cayla. “I owe a great deal to my instructors at Fleming and to my internship supervisor, Jennifer Nicoll at the Agnes Etherington Art Centre at Queen’s University, for the knowledge and skills I learned that helped me gain employment at the National Gallery of Canada.”

Before officially graduating from Fleming College, Cayla is already employed. She is now the Exhibitions Officer and Collections Management Assistant at the National Gallery of Canada in Ottawa.

“I have had the unique opportunity to see the gallery preparing for the unveiling of the Canadian and Indigenous Galleries later this year,” said Cayla. “I was fortunate enough to see many iconic works from Canadian and Indigenous artists up close, as they were in storage in the months leading up to the new exhibition.”

Cayla’s tasks at the National Gallery of Canada focus on using the gallery’s database, MIMSY XG, to assist with tracking the location and exhibition of works in the gallery’s permanent collection, and those loaned for exhibitions; assisting Exhibition Managers with drafting letters and loan agreements to lending institutions, entering data related to loaned works of art, and more.

“The skills, applied projects, and internship experience in gallery and museum administration, artefact handling, database usage, and collections management were instrumental in the competition for the internship and current position I hold at the National Gallery of Canada,” said Cayla. “The Museum Management and Curatorship program provides emerging museum professionals the chance to develop skills in an intensive one-year program with constant opportunities to put theory into practice.”

Her advice to current Museum Management and Curatorship students is to volunteer and seek professional development opportunities. “The National Gallery of Canada offers paid 12-week internships in educational programming for art museums and collections management, sometimes several per year,” said Cayla. “These are great opportunities to build skills and gain experience in a museum setting.”

Ken Gregory adds to his artist’s toolbox of skills at the Haliburton School of Art + Design

ken-gregoryWith more than 25 years of experience and a piece in the National Gallery of Canada, Ken Gregory was not starting his career in the arts when he enrolled in the Artist Blacksmith program at the Haliburton School of Art + Design. But it was his dedication to the arts that made Ken decide to attend school.

“I see continually learning new things as a critical aspect of being an artist. My curious nature does not rest,” said Ken. “I continually add to my artist’s toolbox of skills, materials and knowledge on a regular basis. The art history, drawing and design classes, along with the studio time in the forge, dovetailed perfectly with where I am as an artist at this time.”

Ken has more than 25 years of experience in DIY interface design, hardware hacking, audio, video and computer programming. His piece 12 Motor Bells – an interactive audio/kinetic installation of salvaged alarm bells, fan motors, custom software and hardware – was acquired by the National Gallery of Canada in 2005.

“It’s a great honour to have one of my works included in the collection of the National Gallery of Canada,” said Ken, who explained that the acquisition was a result of the survey exhibition Cheap Meat Dreams and Acorns: 1993 to the present at the Plug In Institute of Contemporary Art Gallery in Winnipeg in 2004.

Ken said coincidentally the National Gallery of Canada’s Board of Directors were in town for an annual meeting and a local acquisition committee member recommended they stop in. “The director and deputy director of the NGC at the time approached me soon after their arrival and said they were interested in acquiring the work,” said Ken.

In addition to 12 Motor Bells, much of Ken’s art focuses on sound. For the past five years he has been studying and collecting the jaw harp instrument, many of which are hand forged.

jaw-harp“One of my goals when pursuing this program was to learn how to make one,” said Ken. “It doesn’t look like much but is incredibly difficult to get right, as well as how it mechanically goes together– it’s got to sound good too. The one I made is about 80% successful.”

Now that he is done classes, Ken plans to use the forge and basic tools in his backyard and keep practicing what he learned at the Haliburton School of Art + Design, which he said was a great experience.

“The staff, instructors and students all have a passion for creating things. Everyone is a source of inspiration in many ways,” said Ken. “The skills and knowledge I learned here will open many creative doors in my imagination.”

He added, “I’ll keep dreaming up ideas for art and making them real.”

From a Cantonese Opera prop to a Peruvian spear, Kaitlin Chamberlain’s workday is always interesting

chamberlain-textile-takedown-2Kaitlin Chamberlain, who is graduating from Fleming’s Museum Management and Curatorship program this year, does not have a boring workday.

“One moment I’m pulling a Cantonese Opera prop and the next I’m trying to find a home for a Peruvian spear. It’s always an adventure when I’m in there,” said Kaitlin, who works for the University of British Columbia’s (UBC) Museum of Anthropology.

“I’m incredibly interested in the museum’s collection. Other collections I’ve worked with have focused on the region the museum is located in or on a specific medium, but the collection here is worldwide and I’m constantly amazed by what I find in storage,” she said.

As the Collections Assistant in the Collections Care, Management and Access Department, Kaitlin is responsible for organizing and facilitating visits to the collection and maintaining object storage. She installs and rehouses objects, creates mounts and performs inventories, and assists the Collections Manager, Loans Manager and Research Technician on their projects.

“A lot of the job responsibilities are things I was taught at Fleming and had a chance to actually do,” said Kaitlin. “When asked in the interview whether I had the experience, I was always able to answer with a quick example from my time at Fleming in addition to work experiences.”

Kaitlin said her Fleming applied learning in textile mounting came in handy this week, when the Collections department had to de-install the Layers of Influence exhibit, which is made up entirely of textiles. Kaitlin will be re-rolling the textiles and re-installing them into their home locations over the next few weeks, so she is grateful for the lesson and practical assignment she completed at Fleming.

Kaitlin came to Fleming College after earning her Honours Bachelor of Arts degree in History and Archaeology from Wilfrid Laurier University and working one summer at the City of Waterloo Museum.

“Aside from the Fleming program being highly recommended, I wanted to balance out my resume,” she said. “I had gotten a university degree where I learned about theory and the history of collections/museums, and I wanted to compliment it with hands-on experience.”

She said her experience in this Fleming College program was intense, fast-paced and rewarding, and that her faculty and peers were very supportive. She added that the work itself is also very rewarding and that she is already recommending Fleming’s Museum Management and Curatorship program to others.

“I would recommend it for the same reason I decided to take it, it gives you the hands-on experience within a museum setting,” she said. “The program’s partnership with the Peterborough Museum & Archives is brilliant.”

And to those currently in the program, Kaitlin’s advice is to apply to jobs regardless of the experience they want or location. “The process can be disheartening in the beginning because you feel like you’re sending resumes off into the void, but you never know what doors will open,” she said. “I certainly didn’t expect to hear back from a museum on the opposite side of the country.”

Conservation students to honor college namesake in ‘Meet the Real Fleming’ exhibit

Fleming College namesake Sir Sandford Fleming is being honored during the 50th anniversary of the college. Cultural Heritage Conservation and Management students are curating the Meet the Real Fleming exhibit, which opens Saturday, April 1, 2017 during Fleming’s Spring Open House.

Sir Sandford Fleming
Sir Sandford Fleming

Sir Sandford Fleming was born in Kircaldy, Scotland in 1827 and moved to Peterborough, Ontario, Canada in 1845, where he drew and printed the first map of the city. Sir Sandford was an engineer and innovator. He designed Canada’s first postage stamp, the Three Penny Beaver; led plans for the Intercolonial Railway, was director of the Canadian Pacific Railway Company, and Chief Engineer of the Northern Railway; and invented Universal Standard Time, which was adopted worldwide in 1885.

In 1897, Sir Sandford was knighted by Queen Victoria for his accomplishments. The regalia he wore to the knighting are just some of the artifacts that will be displayed at the Meet the Real Fleming exhibit.

“We’re learning lots of personal stories about Sir Sandford that people may not know,” said Conservation student and Lead Project Manager Raene Poisson. “He saved a portrait of Queen Victoria from a burning building, which she mentioned at his knighting.”

Conservation student Raene Poisson
Conservation student Raene Poisson

Raene is excited for the exhibit and enthusiastically discusses the artifacts she and her classmates are working on in the Sutherland Campus Conservation Lab. In addition to his regalia, the exhibit will also display Sir Sandford’s brass rolling ruler, a ruler with visible (possibly Sir Sandford’s) prints on it, and a dress belonging to his wife (believed to be her wedding dress), among other items. These artifacts are normally on display at Hutchison House museum in Peterborough.

“The students are so enthusiastic about the topic and working with the personal effects of Fleming, the namesake of the college,” said Fleming Conservation program coordinator Gayle McIntyre. “The students have embraced the topic. It’s a complete synthesis of the curriculum; all of the courses come together. It shows teamwork and collaboration, time management, and research. The project is the perfect blend of art, science, engineering and creativity.’

Gayle McIntyre and Katie McEvoy

‘Students are experiencing back of house museum functions – such as the planning and preparation of the artifacts, and text for the exhibit – through to the front of house museum functions, including exhibit installation and public engagement,” said Gayle. “This class is rich in positive energy and fresh ideas. Faculty are proud of their efforts!”

Raene agrees. “Everything we’re taught in the program is used in this project,” she said.

Her classmate, Katie McEvoy, is part of the Interpretive Planning Group that helps promote the upcoming exhibit. Katie manages the Sir Sandford Fleming Twitter account, tweeting first-person as Sir Sandford to help others learn about him. Her team also chatted with Trent radio, held a bake sale, and made a Sir Sandford Selfie cutout for students to take cellphone pictures with.

“At the exhibit opening, I’m most excited to get feedback on our work,” said Katie, who will organize Sir Sandford-themed activities for children to enjoy at the April 1st event. “It’s our first time doing an exhibit start to finish, so receiving feedback from students and staff to see how we did will help us measure our success.”

The students have also been fundraising for the exhibit. On February 22, they hosted a bake sale in the Sutherland Campus main foyer to raise money and awareness of it.

Sutherland Campus Bake Sale
Sutherland Campus Bake Sale

One of the project managers at the bake sale was Lindsay Sisson, who said she hopes students will feel connected with Sir Sandford at the exhibit. “We’re hoping to connect with the student population by sharing what Sir Sandford was doing at our age and lesser known facts about him,” she said.

One Sir Sandford story the Conservation students adore is how Sir Sandford fell in love with his wife, Ann Jane (“Jeanie”).

“He was riding a horse-and-carriage with Jeanie when they crashed into a tree,” said Lindsay at the bake sale. “That crash was when Sir Sandford fell in love with her and they later married. Sir Sandford also used the tree stump to make a family picture frame.”

Weeks later in the Conservation Lab, Lindsay’s classmate Raene shares the same story as being her favourite Fleming fact. “The more I research about him, the more I fall in love,” says Raene. “I just love the story of how he fell in love with his wife!”

The students hope guests at the Meet the Real Fleming exhibit will feel the same.

Museum Management and Curatorship grad makes news headlines for donation request

img_0216-high-resWhen Fleming College graduate Allison Burnett posted a call for donations for Shelburne County Museum on local community Facebook pages, she never expected to make news headlines. But perhaps that’s because the donations Allison is collecting are for women’s underwear and lingerie from the years 1860 to 1960.

The donations are for Underneath it All – 100 Years of Underwear and Lingerie in North America, 1860 – 1960, an exhibit that will be displayed from June to September at Shelburne County Museum in Nova Scotia. The exhibit was created by the Missouri History Museum and includes interpretive panels with text and pictures, but not artifacts. Allison, who is the Curator at Shelburne County Museum, wanted to add real garments to the exhibit for her upcoming display.

Allison put posters up around town, posted to Facebook groups and pages, and shared information on the local radio station asking people for garment donations from this time period. Quickly, she received a response from news organizations. Since her call for donations, Allison has been interviewed by Halifax radio station “The Rick Howe Show” on 95.7, the BBC, and the CBC.

“I was very surprised when I got an email from the CBC about the exhibit. At that time, I had only put a poster in a Shelburne Facebook group– it turns out that the people at CBC skim small town Facebook groups for news!” she said. “And after I was interviewed by CBC on the radio and for an online article, the other news outlets picked up the story. I thought it was nice that people found the story so interesting.”

Woman’s camisole

Allison said she has received offers from people interested in donating or loaning items, but she is still sorting through the Shelburne County Museum collection to decide what items she will need to borrow from the community, so she has yet to accept any offers.

In the process of curating this exhibit, Allison said she has learned some interesting historical facts. “One thing I wasn’t aware of before is that the billowy shorts-shaped undergarments women used to wear under dresses were actually known as ‘drawers,’” she said. “And until the end of the 1800s, they were generally two separate legs attached at the waist.”

Allison believes the 100-year time span was chosen by the exhibit creators because it demonstrates a broad range of evolving fashion trends and social movements. “Women’s fashions – and, because of that, their underwear – evolved constantly and drastically throughout the century in question,” she said. “And this was closely linked in interesting ways to changing roles for women in society.”

Allison is a graduate of Fleming’s Museum Management and Curatorship program, Class of 2014. She said the skills she gained at Fleming are applicable to her role at Shelburne County Museum, adding, “Because I work at a small museum I do a bit of everything, and almost all of what I do is work I learned about in the program.”

Allison came to Fleming after earning her master’s degree in History. She wanted to gain practical skills to work in museums and wanted to complete a program fast to get into the work world.

“I found the faculty very approachable and helpful, and the class content and applied projects were very applicable to the work that goes on in the field, and left me feeling confident in my abilities in the workplace,” said Allison. “I would definitely recommend the MMC program at Fleming.”