The Prince Albert Historical Museum has revived an old campaign to help future generations understand the COVID-19 outbreak.
Last year, the museum put out a call for submissions from students, encouraging them to submit their views on what’s it’s like to like through a pandemic. Museum educator Joanna Wreakes said they received few responses, likely because the province was still early in its response.
With more than a year passed since Saskatchewan’s first recorded case, the museum has renewed their call for submissions, and expanded the field to include anyone in the community.
“We want to preserve the history of Prince Albert and tell the stories of the people who lived here, and this is obviously a big story for those of us who are living through it,” Wreakes explained.
Museum staff have spent the past few months digging through archives for newspaper articles about Prince Albert’s response to the 1918 Spanish Flu, and other pandemics that hit the community. Wreakes said it’s made for interesting reading, and got staff members thinking about what future generations will want to know about the City’s response to COVID-19.
They’re looking for anything from written reflections to small artifacts to artistic pieces created during the outbreak—anything that can help future generations learn about this time period.
“People have had a year to reflect and think about what it’s meant to them,” Wreakes said. “Everyone, I think, has taken on different projects.”
The museum plans to use these contributions as part of their next exhibit. The focus will be on how Prince Albert’s response to epidemics has changed over the past 100 years. If all goes well, the exhibit will open to the public on May 25.
Wreakes said they’ll also allow residents to loan items to the museum instead of donate them. There will also be a space for visitors to drop off items after visiting the exhibit if they choose to do so.
To donate or loan an item for the exhibit, call 306-764-2992, or email email@example.com.
Educator role brings new appreciation for PA history
Joanna Wreakes started as the museum educator in October, and the past few months have been an education.
Wreakes, who hails from Alberta, often visited Prince Albert as a child, but wasn’t aware of the area’s rich historical legacy. Her new role has given her an appreciation for the area, she explained, especially its early Métis history.
“I have family here and had come here growing up, and you just think it’s a regular white-dude settled town,” she said. “Just looking at the rich, rich Métis history here has been really amazing.”
The COVID outbreak has forced Wreakes to get creative in filling her role as museum educator. Typically, she’d be conducting school tours or speaking in person to out-of-town visitors. She’s still trying to accomplish that task, but her methods have moved to virtual tours on YouTube or Facebook Live.
Despite the challenges, Wreakes said the restrictions have given visitors a new appreciation for the museum as a cultural space.
“A lot of us have had to pivot to digital programming and digital engagement, and it’s been amazing to see people getting excited about being able to interact with things on a museum’s website,” she said. “It’s nice to see that the Historical Society and people are still engaging with the history of PA.”