Lethbridge museum sees end of an era and start to a new one with curator’s retirement

Click to play video 'The end of era at the Galt Museum and Archives in Lethbridge' The end of era at the Galt Museum and Archives in Lethbridge
WATCH ABOVE: The Galt Museum is ending an era, but has opened doors to begin a new one. As Sarah Komadina reports, after a decade of service Wendy Aitkens has retired as curator at the museum and has passed the torch to Aimee Benoit – Jan 10, 2017

After 10 years, Wendy Aitkens retired from her job as curator at the Galt Museum and Archives in Lethbridge.  It’s a job she says brought her home and the decision to retire is bittersweet.

“It was the most stressful part of this whole 10 years,” Aitkens said. “I love this job, I enjoy the challenges and the creativity around the job… I found it very difficult to make a decision and set a date.  It took me three years to come to that point.”

Aitkens has curated over 100 exhibits. Some displays that stood out over the years include Smile! Captures Lives with Cameras and the Mighty Bridge, an exhibit about the history of the High Level Bridge.

READ MORE: Lethbridge art program helps people with disabilities and chronic pain: ‘You’re not in this alone’

But Aitkens says she is most proud of her book, A Legacy of Adventure and Art: the Life of Miss Edith Fanny Kirk.

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“This is a unique place that changes so many exhibits so often and it’s great because it provides a wide variety of topics that hopefully will connect with people,” she said.

Aitkens’ retirement opens the door for Aimee Benoit, who started as the new curator a month ago, to make her mark on the museum. They both share the same passion for local history.

“Of course (it’s) big shoes to fill for me, but I really look forward to building on the work that she’s (Aitkens) done and I really look forward to building onto those successes and building onto those relationships,” Benoit said.

Work is already underway for the first exhibit Benoit will curate.

READ MORE: Galt Museum chosen to run Fort Whoop-Up

“My first big project is an exhibit that is coming up this summer and it’s about water. So that’s something I’ve begun research on (and) had an opportunity to speak with different experts.”

As Benoit adjusts to living her dream, Aitkens shares one piece of advice to for her .

“I would encourage Aimee to get to know the community well, (get) involved with them in everything that is done here at the museum, enjoy that process and have fun.”

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