Strachan new Musée head
Arts and Heritage now set to move ahead with cultural work
By: Scott Hayes
| Posted: Wednesday, Aug 21, 2013 06:00 am
Arts and Heritage St. Albert has announced that longtime programmer Shari Strachan has been appointed to take the helm at the Musée Héritage Museum.
The new director brings with her a lifelong commitment to history and a passion for her adoptive city.
“The best part for me has been that I’ve always been able to match my passion for history and teaching in the positions at the museum,” she began, before emphasizing, “I love working in education at the museum.”
It seems that she hopes to continue helping St. Albertans learn more about the past in her newfound position of power.
The Wisconsin-born educator started out as a junior high social studies teacher in Washington State and also in Kelowna, British Columbia. She graduated with a degree in secondary education from Central Washington University and studied at Simon Fraser University to obtain her teaching license for B.C. and Alberta.
It was while she was looking for teaching work in this city that she came to be the contract programmer at the Little White School.
“That’s how I fell into museums.”
That was 2004. She quickly moved up the ladder, becoming the museum’s programs co-ordinator the next year and the program manager in 2007. In her six years with that position, she fostered the educational school and public programming that saw attendance of 11,427 people last year alone.
The Strachan years in programming have also seen a resurgence in new developments including seniors programs, group tours, special events (including Canada Day, Taste of the Past, Mission Hill Day and the Harvest Festival), and aboriginal outreach programming among others. The Summer Walking Tours, a relatively new feature on the museum’s calendar, takes its next stroll with historic interpreter Roy Toomey next Thursday, August 29.
Simply put, she has become immersed in this city’s history and she absolutely loves it. It’s more important than many people think, she averred.
“The history itself is fascinating because it’s central to western Canadian history. Whoever was part of that history in the growth of Canada – or even before Canada was a country because, of course, St. Albert was here before that happened – either went through here or came by here or dropped in here or left something behind here on their way to or from some place. That part of the history I really enjoy.
She added that she also deeply appreciates the fact that there were no social barriers in the city.
“Everyone was welcome in St. Albert, since the beginning. The only requirement here, it had nothing to do with your language or your skin colour or where you came from, as long as you contributed to the community, you were welcome here. And that’s really neat.”
While maintaining her educational objectives, she is still dedicated to lifelong learning as well. She is currently enrolled in the Cultural Resource Management Program from the University of Victoria.
“Shari will bring new energy and direction to the museum; with a strong emphasis on community and interpretation,” said Ann Ramsden, the newly installed executive director of Arts and Heritage St. Albert, in a prepared press statement.
Ramsden was previously the museum director who oversaw Strachan’s activities in programming. Strachan is confident that the two will continue to make history and culture as relevant to St. Albert as they ever did.
“A lot of the things that she’s envisioning are things that we’ve all worked at together in the museum in the past. So it’s a natural progression into moving forward with a lot of the things that we’ve all put together here at the museum under her leadership.”