Lacombe's Michener House Museum facing repair work following Canada Day festivities

The Michener House Museum in Lacombe was a hub for activity on Canada Day Monday, July 1, 2019, even as rainy weather and wind blew through the area in the early afternoon. However, some damage and theft occured during the day, including paint on the building, and a broken antique spinning wheel.

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Rainy weather on Canada Day wasn’t the only thing dampening celebrations at Lacombe’s Michener House Museum as some vandalism and theft occured during Monday’s festivities.

While no artefacts were stolen, their antique spinning wheel was broken, some of their exhibit pieces placed outside for people to see and touch disappeared, and paint from crafting stations ended up on the side of the building. The damage prompted a Facebook post from the Lacombe and District Historical Society advising of their reevaluation of hosting large programming events at the facility in the future.

“There was a lot of kids running around with very little supervision. We have limited staff and volunteers, so it was a little hard to control without the assistance of parents,” said Executive Director Melissa Blunden, speaking to the Lacombe Globe Tuesday.

“We love having these big events. It’s so great to say we had almost 1,500 people at the museums and it shows great support for the museums, but at the same time, because of how not only how small our staff and volunteers are, but Michener House itself, having people constantly through it might not be what’s best for the collections.”

Although the value of exhibit pieces is primarily the time they took to make, and programming materials are typically low in cost to replace, the damage to the spinning wheel, which is often used in demonstrations, won’t be easy to repair.

Blunden says many don’t understand that while they’re curators of the artefacts, they are unable to take on the additional role of repairing them, and must go through the Canadian Conservation Institute so items can be repaired correctly. Damage to the building itself, given it’s a provincially and municpally-designated historical resource, also takes months of paperwork, as evidenced by the museums efforts to have walls and porch repainted and restored for the 125-year milestone of Michener House.

The meeting of the Lacombe and District Historical Society board is planned for later this month, where they’ll make a decision on how to handle events going forward, whether it’s increasing security measures for the building, bringing in extra volunteers, or eliminating activities on the arts and crafts side to focus on the building and historical artefacts.

“Saturday is Historic Places Day so we were doing a Cyber Day at the museum and a huge part of that was doing demos with (the spinning wheel) and we won’t be able to now. It’s a bit of a not-so-great situation, but obviously we want to be as positive as possible, so we’re trying to look at how to keep doing this, whether that just means more security, or what else it might mean for us as an organization,” said Blunden.

“We don’t want to be cancelling events or anything like that – it’s great to see the community come out and support us….I guess we just need to educate a little more on respect and due diligence in the community. We’re not a daycare.”

Blunden also added a thank you to those in the city who attended their events and support the community’s museums.