The Agassiz-Harrison Museum is closed after another successful season, although it won’t be your last opportunity to step inside the museum building.
According to museum manager and curator Lindsay Foreman, the museum saw a major increase in the number of people visiting this year. Last year, 679 people came in to see the museum, including 400 from the Cycle Farm Tour alone. This year, the museum saw 1,075 people, a 58 per cent increase.
“I was happy to note a lot more community members have been coming in and seeing our space,” Foreman said. “Many of them were like, ‘I don’t know why I waited so long to come here.’”
The reason for the increase isn’t exactly clear —although it certainly wasn’t because of the Cycle Farm Tour, which actually saw half the number of people visiting the museum on July 20. Foreman thinks part of it may have been because of the museum’s refresh, which launched the season back in May.
“I really think this is a positive change, seeing what the numbers say and reviewing some of the comments,” Foreman said about the changes to the gallery. “People are pleasantly surprised; they think it’s really well laid out.”
More changes are planned for next year, as the museum looks to rotate some of its exhibits and tell more community stories.
One major change will be the barn on the museum property, which is currently used to house the museum’s large, outdoor farming and logging artifacts. The goal, Foreman said, is to have the barn be open to visitors year-round as an exhibit space focusing on the Agassiz Research Centre.
“A lot of the items that are currently in the barn are outdoor equipment items,” Foreman said. “A lot of those things we will hopefully move outside, and depending on funding … if we can get some overhang and potential protective fencing, we will be placing these things around the perimeter of our barn so you can actually see them.”
The visitor information centre also saw an increase in visitors during this year’s open season, going from about 3,650 in 2018 to 4,091. These people came from places as far away as Japan and Australia, although a number came from much closer, including Richmond.
The museum is open each year from the May long weekend to the Thanksgiving long weekend. But this winter, Foreman has plans to keep the museum connected with the community through a number of events that will keep residents and visitors coming back throughout the off season.
The first events started in October, with the museum’s haunted tour. The tour took participants on a walk through the museum, introducing them to resident ghost Maude.
Other events will be taking place approximately once a month, with the next one happening on Nov. 9. The museum will be hosting a Remembrance Day event from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. to give people an opportunity to take a final look at the museum’s military exhibit, which will likely be rotated out of the main gallery. There will also be reams of research available for people who want to learn more about their ancestors who fought in the wars.
Saturday, Dec. 7 will see the museum participating in the Dicken’s Tea at Cheam Village, and sometime the following week there will be a holiday family event at the museum itself. Like last year, the museum will also be open during the CP Holiday Train stop on Dec. 16.
Starting in January, the museum will be hosting a monthly speaker series. The first evening, on Jan. 15 from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m., will focus on archeology with archaeologists from Sto:lo nation and possibly Sts’ailes as well.
Feb. 19 will bring speakers on the CP Rail to the museum, while March will focus on logging in the Agassiz-Harrison valley and April will look at changing farming practices.
The February speakers’ night will be held during B.C. Heritage Week, which will also see the museum open for a number of other heritage-related events.
“We’re going to be doing a lot this winter,” Foreman said. “Even though we’re closed daily, we’re going to be trying to do something for the community each month.”