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Galt Museum & Archives bringing exhibits online, creating interactive videos for Lethbridgians

Rebecca Wild, educator at the Galt Museum & Archives in Lethbridge, Alta., tells her online audience about the history of the High Level Bridge on April 16, 2020. Galt Museum & Archives / YouTube

The Galt Museum & Archives is home to more than 17,000 artifacts and one million documents and photographs.  Normally full of visitors, it is now empty due to COVID-19 regulations — but that hasn’t stopped the services they provide.

Despite being physically closed, the museum has found a way to continue offering insights into Lethbridge’s history through online platforms.  Employees starting making the transition as soon as they found out they’d be closed to the public.

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“Our website was recently redeveloped and we’re quite happy with it,” said Graham Ruttan, communications officer with the Galt.

“You’ll see things like articles about events or people in local history; you’ll see presentations that our museum education and our collections technician and curator are doing.”

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Some of the newest additions to the online platform include:

  • ‘Building Bridges’: an interactive YouTube video on bridge building and history
  • ‘War on Grasshoppers: Just Gas Them!”: a short article on insect extermination attempts
  • ‘Tips and Tricks for Archiving: Labelling Memories’: a practical ‘how-to’ guide for record-keeping at home

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Ruttan says keeping memories preserved is especially important during a time like this.

“Right now with the amount of time that we’re spending at home, it’s created a lot of opportunities for us to communicate with our family members,” he said. “Often there are stories that… are really meaningful to us but we don’t take the time to record those.”

He suggests recording as many interaction as possible with families, including Skype and FaceTime calls, and writing significant names and dates on the backs of photographs.

“That is invaluable, because sometimes those resources do pass away on us.”

In the last week, Ruttan says the museum uploaded an exhibit regarding the 1918 Spanish Influenza in southern Alberta, and found some striking similarities between it and today’s current health crisis.

“There are lots of lessons that those folks learned as a result of that epidemic,” he said. “There’s cutout instructions on how to make a mask that are very similar to the ones we see today.”

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With COVID-19 postponing and cancelling many of the events the Galt had planned, Ruttan says they may start working in the near future to bring those all online as well — free of charge.

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