22 October 2017




Hello everyone! My name is Kathleen and I am the Social Chair of the Museum Studies Student Association (MUSSA). My main goal is to help foster a sense of community in the Master of Museum Studies program and to facilitate events that allow MMSt’ers to hang out and do cool museum-related stuff. So naturally, this includes organizing trips for MMSt students to visit museums and cultural institutions around Ontario.

MMSt students Katlyn Wooder, Hannah Monkman, Kathleen Vahey, and Lucy Beale in the "Trailblazing: Women in Canada since 1867" exhibition. Photo courtesy of Serena Ypelaar.
The first of our three day-trips took place this past Friday, October 20th when we travelled via a traditional yellow school bus (throwback!) to the Waterloo Region Museum in Kitchener. While at the museum we learned about the advantages and disadvantages of working in a large regional museum system; visited two exhibitions; toured part of the outdoor heritage village; heard about the process and challenges developing a travelling exhibition; and finally, toured the onsite workshop, conservation lab, and collections vault. Over the course of the day, we talked with 10 staff members who hold distinct positions throughout the museum.

First-year MMSt students Lucy Beale, Dan Genis, Emily Williams, and Emma Franco-Toner inside the Trailblazing exhibition's colourful bus! Photo courtesy of Kathleen Vahey. 
All in all, it was a wonderful, jam-packed day. Take a look at some of the highlights written by student participants:

"Not being sure what to expect and being completely blown away by the quality of the exhibitions - especially the "Trailblazing - Women in Canada since 1867" gallery. Also, falling in love with the 'living history' period village!" - Michael Goodchild
Erica Chi tries out an interactive station in the "Trailblazing:
Women in Canada since 1867" exhibition. Photo courtesy of
Kathleen Vahey. 

"Really impressed to see the intricacies involved with putting together a huge exhibition like "Trailblazers" ... something you don't get to see while experiencing an exhibit." - Erica Chi

"Everyone at the museum was excited about and dedicated to the wonderful array of exhibits and historical sites that make up Waterloo Region Museum. Can't wait to return and spend more time in the historic village!" - Emma Franco-Toner

"The staff at the site were so helpful and interested in our experiences and thoughts. The mix of a small-museum mentality at a large and multi-purpose institution was amazing to know more about." - Lucy Beale

"My favourite part was getting to see a museum with such diverse resources and getting to experience how they all work cooperatively together. I'd love to spend more time in the village and see more of the non-traditional parts of the museum." - Hannah Barber

Kevin Thomas, Public Programs Specialist at Waterloo Region Museum, gives MMSt students a tour of Doon Heritage Village. Photo courtesy of Kathleen Vahey. 
"This trip covered so much more than I could have prepared for! The initial panel talk gave me perspective about the responsibility of staff in multiple departments, and in a range of institutions, big and small! It is rare to get the experience of a large, high-functioning museum while also learning about the opportunities and struggles in smaller heritage institutions." - Amy Intrator

Getting ready to do some blacksmithing with expert 
Robbie in the heritage village! Photo courtesy of Serena Ypelaar.
"Wonderful to finally see the museum, after living in Waterloo Region for many years! Hearing professional experience was a highlight - as was patting a sheep and a cow (when I wasn't supposed to!) - Andrew Falcao

"I was so thrilled to be allowed into collections even for a few moments. The tour of the village was especially interesting and engaging and I'd like to go back sometime when I'd have more time to wander, knowing what I do now about the behind-the-scenes aspects." - Emily Williams

"This trip was one of the most diverse day trips I have had the pleasure to attend. From panel talks to historic exhibits to beautiful architecture to live animals (that some people had to be told multiple times not to touch, but hey who doesn't want to touch sheep). It was worth the 401 traffic." - Katlyn Wooder

Waterloo Region Museum Manager/Curator Adèle Hempel speaking at a panel to our group of MMSt students. We also heard from panelists (from left): Wendy Connell, Sean Jasmins, Keri Solomon, Carolyn Blackstock, Michelle Bartlett-Rozad, James Jensen (not pictured), Stacy McLennan (not pictured). Photo courtesy of Kathleen Vahey.

After a long but thoroughly enjoyable day, I would like to extend my most sincere thank you to Adèle Hempel (Manager/Curator of Region of Waterloo Museums) who enthusiastically agreed to host MMSt students at Waterloo Region Museum and planned a fantastic itinerary for us, and to all the staff members who took time out of their busy day to speak with us about their work in museums. I would also like to thank Dean Wendy Duff and Prof. Cara Krmpotich who kindly approved the trip, and Prof. Costis Dallas who spent his day with us at the museum.

Finally, I'd like to thank all the students who joined me on this trip. You were respectful and engaged (yay for asking questions!) and overall amazing representatives of the Master of Museum Studies program and the University of Toronto. I'm certainly looking forward to our next day-trip to Hamilton on November 10th. Email me at kathleen.vahey@mail.utoronto.ca with any inquires or to register!

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