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L.A. Beat

Galt Museum ready to re-open June 2 with new safety procedures in place

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The Galt Museum has held over their previous exhibits as they prepare to  re-open, June 2.
 Of course there are changes.

Graham Ruttan and new CEO Darrin Martens with “ A Painters paradise.” Photo by Richard Amery
“It’s not a grand re-opening. It’s a reopening. We’re being very careful. We’re following  Alberta Health guidelines,” said new CEO and Executive Director Darrin Martens, who moved here from the Peel Museum in Brampton in Southern Ontario to take over the position on April 9 just as Covid was starting to take off.
“We’re taking a very careful approach to reopening. The safety of our staff and visitors is paramount,” he continued.

The museum’s closure during this Covid 19 outbreak has meant a lot of work for Galt Museum communications co-ordinator Graham Ruttan, who has been busy revitalizing Galt Museum exhibits on the North West Mounted Police and the Nikkei Tapestry exhibits online which are now available on a multitude of social media platforms including Facebook, Youtube, Twitter and instagram. The Galt Museum also offers online access to over one hundred thousand records of objects from our collection of over a million items, including 85,589 photographs and 13,500 artifacts.

The museum is implementing several changes for the reopening.
 Visitors must go online to and buy tickets for a specific time and day, plus agree to a code of  conduct.
“We’ve brought back QR codes,” said Ruttan, adding visitors can  download an app so they can hear the audio portion of the exhibits on their own personal devices. They have also modified the permanent exhibits to remove  any tactile features and staff will be keeping a close eye on visitors to enforce the no touching rule.

Martens said the code of conduct follows Alberta Health  guidelines including proper social distancing,  hand washing and sanitization stations and limiting the number of visitors.
 The gift shop also has new procedures in place. If you touch an item and decide not to buy it, you put it in a box where it will be taken away and sterilized for 24 hours before being returned to the shelves. Masks are not mandatory for the Galt Museum.
“We had an opportunity to test things with a mock opening with staff and volunteers,” Ruttan said, adding staff have also cleaned and sanitized the exhibits.
“We’ve even cleaned the (permanent exhibit in the main room)  buffalo,” he said.
“We’re being very responsible in our approach to the re-opening,” he continued.

 Hours have also been changed.
 Galt Museum members have priority from 10 a.m.-noon, Tuesday through Saturday. The museum will be open from noon to five p.m for the general public, Tuesdays through Saturday. And from 1-5 p.m. on Sundays for everybody.
“ We’re closed Mondays so we’ll do a deep clean of everything every week,” Ruttan enthused.

“Come learn safely,” Martens summarized.
“I’m excited to be here. I’m a storyteller. So I’m excited to be able to tell the stories of Lethbridge,” Martens continued, noting he is originally from Swift Current, Saskatchewan and his sister has operated a veterinary practice in Fort Macleod for many years, so he is very familiar with Southern Alberta.
“I’m extremely excited to take on this position,” he continued.
“I was able to ask a lot of questions about how things are done  here and why we do them,” he added.

The current exhibits closing dates have been extended as a result of the shut down.
“A Painters Paradise” featuring the works of Michael Pisko and Ernest Riethman, will now run until Sept. 7. “Swing,” in the basement featuring the history of swing music in Lethbridge during the Second World War will run until Oct. 12 and no closing date has been announced for the  “Enemy Aliens,” about the internment camp that was on the Exhibition park grounds, which is in the main foyer.

 Marten said all of the other museums are in the same boat, so while Covid has lead to more complications for exhibit scheduling, other museums are facing the same challenges.
“It’s had a cascading effect,” Martens said.

Ruttan is excited to extend “ A Painter’s Paradise,” as both artists have a long history in Lethbridge.
“A lot of the works are from collection , but a lot of the works  were gifted to relatives. We convinced them to lend us them for the exhibit,” Ruttan said. Marybeth Laviolette was the guest curator for this exhibit.
 Michael Pisko was from Lethbridge, while Riethman was from Switzerland  originally before moving to Alberta.
Both artist’s vibrant works reflect their love for Southern Alberta landscapes and life.
 One of Pisko’s work of a coal miner upon a futuristic landscape reflects the miner’s role in building the future according to Ruttan.
“Both of them developed their styles around Southern Alberta,” said Ruttan, noting Pisko in particular was inspired by the Crowsnest Pass and Waterton National Park.
 “Riethman was really inspired by  Group of 7 artist A Y Jackson, so we borrowed one of his works from the University of Lethbridge,” Ruttan said.
“Pisko used to mix  his own colours, so he has a very distinct palette,” he observed.

— by Richard Amery, L.A. Beat Editor
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