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L.A. Beat

Galt Museum examines favourite curiosities and treasures

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The Galt Museum is revisiting the past even more than usual with their latest exhibit Curiosities and Treasures: the Sequel which runs Sept. 26-Jan. 11.

Wendy Aitkens examines a cimbalom. Photo by Richard Amery
“It’s the sequel. We did it for the first time back in 2010,” said curator Wendy Aitkens.

 As before, they invited 72 people from Lethbridge and surrounding area to participate in the exhibit by exploring the Galt Museum collection and choosing over 140 items which had personal significance to them for the exhibit.

“We found the people we invited to be part of it and visitors who saw it last time enjoyed it as much as we did, so we thought it would be really nice to redo it as part of our fiftieth anniversary this year,” she continued.

 She noted the Galt Museum collection includes 20,000 items, so staff helped participants narrow the process down to basic areas which most interesting.

The result was a spectacular collection of items  including a n R2 D2 Star Wars toy, a Hungarian hammered dulcimer called a cimbalom, quilts, paintings, several vintage cameras, numerous military items including medals,  coal mining lamps, a bell which was not only used on one of Lethbridge's first steamboats shipping coal to Medicine Hat, but was later used as one of Lethbridge's first fire department bell and even a jar of preserved pickles.

There are items to be expected including an RCMP uniform, Commissionaires uniforms and an old Lethbridge Police Services uniform, a First Nations head dress and more unusual items like as Lethbridge College beanie from  the early ’70s.

“ The participants were all ages from kids from schools to seniors. A lot of people chose them because their families donated them,” she continued.

“We wanted people to choose items they connected with and asked them to tell their stories,” she said.
“One boy chose something from the military because his mother used to be in the military,” she said.
“While Wayne Dwornik chose a set of hotel keys because is family used to live in a hotel. If you brought your keys with you,  you could mail them back to yourself,” she said.

 So plaques next to each item have a brief story as well as the person who chose them as well as the person who donated it. For example City of Lethbridge counsellor Jeff Carlson chose the R2D2 toy because he used to collect them while photographer Jamie Vederes chose a 1910 tintype camera because he works in tintype and even submitted a tintype he did to be included in the exhibit.

“The jar of pickles was the most surprising to me,” Aitkens said.

“ But it talks about preservation, which a lot of people had to do to get it through the winter,” she said adding there is also a butter churn which was not only used to prepare pickles for preservation, but was used to wash clothes as well.
 There is also railroad equipment and much more.

Curiosities and Treasures: The Sequel runs Sept. 26-Jan. 11 at the Galt Museum.

 A version of this story appears in the Oct. 1, 2014  Edition of the Lethbridge Sun Times
– By Richard Amery L.A. Beat Editor
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