New Welland museum curator takes the lead on local history

Welland Museum operates on celebrating the past, but the present and future are equally important as several changes have taken place there over the past few months.

A major refurbishment of the King Street building is nearing completion and new exhibitions are appearing under the direction of its recently hired curator Emily Hodgson, who took over four months ago after its former manager retired Penny Morningstar.

Due to a combination of COVID-19 restrictions and ongoing work on the site, the former Welland Public Library, the museum was closed to the public from March 2020 until the end of the year last. Only virtual programming was offered during this period.

But now the story is coming back to life with “all-new staff,” other than someone who’s worked there for several years, Hodgson said on Saturday.

“Everyone is new,” she added.

Hodgson previously worked at the Adelaide Hunter Hoodless Homestead National Historic Site in St. George, Ontario, as well as museums in Mississauga and Oakville.

She has also worked at the Fashion History Museum in Cambridge, Ontario.

The latest attraction is “150 years of saying yes to the dress”, an exhibition devoted to the evolution of wedding dresses. There is a coin representing each decade since the 1890s, the earliest being that donated by the Savigny family of Pelham. There are 16 more on display, on loan from families in Welland and Niagara.

The most recent dress is Hodgson’s from her 2021 wedding.

The museum has received donations of a few wedding dresses in recent months, to go along with a small collection that already exists in the archives, Hodgson said.

“That’s what came out of it,” Hodgson said of how the idea of ​​putting the growing collection on display came about.

“Who doesn’t love looking at wedding dresses?”

Another exhibition slated to begin in September is dedicated to “tattooed people and their stories,” Hodgson said, adding that tattooing is an age-old art form.

“It’s not a new thing and crosses so many cultures,” she said.

The museum’s theater will soon reopen and be ready in time for the Franco-Ontarian Day celebrations at the end of September with a video featuring Welland’s Francophone community and “the influence they had on the creation of the city,” Hodgson said.

The museum basement also has a lot to show in its newly upgraded area. The Sunnyside Dairy Cart is back and is joined on the ground floor by several exhibits, including an exhibit called “Anchors Aweigh”, which pays homage to various ships and the Welland Canal through model ships, bridges and buildings. other nautical parts.

In early 2021, the Welland Museum received a $64,500 Resilient Communities Fund grant from the Ontario Trillium Foundation, designed to help non-profit organizations recover and rebuild from the effects of COVID-19.

The museum is using the funds to develop new fundraising strategies, purchase data management software, and install technology equipment to effectively communicate safety protocols to returning visitors.

A $150,000 HVAC system, paid for by the city, was installed. An accessible washroom, made possible by a federal grant, is also nearing completion.

The front area of ​​the museum was transformed into a general store-themed gift shop, new offices were built, and more space was created throughout the building.

A mix of municipal, federal and provincial grants covers work that costs more than $90,000, not including the HVAC system, museum board chairman Greg D’Amico said last year.

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