When I started this blog a year and a half ago I could not decide what specific topic I wanted to blog about. I love fashion, I love history, I love travel, I love food, I love books, I love design, I love makeup, I love adventures… the list goes on and on and that is why I decided to name my blog after myself because that was the best thing that suited it. I have such a variety of interest that make me the person I am. This blog post is going to be a little different that any post I’ve made before, I want to talk about yet another detail of my life and something that is extremely important to me, and that is the New Brunswick Museum.
I know that most students do not fall in love with their summer jobs… but I was lucky enough to. I stared working for the New Brunswick Museum when I was eighteen, after my first year of university. I studied a year of History and Classics but I had no idea what I wanted to do with my history degree. From the moment I said I wanted to study history, people gave me a hard time about it. What will you ever do with a history degree? Arts degrees are pointless? You are never going to get a job? the comments go on and on. The New Brunswick Museum was where I learned my potential of what I could do with a history degree, and how my options were actually endless, sparking my academic and museum career path which I am currently on.
My first summer I worked for the Visitor Services department of the Museum one of my first tasks was learning what all of the employees at the museum did, so I would know who to transfer calls and mail to. I was amazed by all the different jobs there are in a museum that I did not know about that relate to history: Public Programmer, Curator, Conservationist, Exhibition Department, etc. This opened my eyes to all the things I could do with a history degree and set me on my path to become a museum curator and historian.
For the following three summers I worked in public programs where I interacted with the public. I delivered museum tours, uptown walking tours, school field trips, birthday parties, worked on historical projects, did research in the art department and even attended two Bio Blitz’s where I spent time in the middle of the woods searching for snails and lichens. Over the past few years I have learned so much, in particular about our province and the city of Saint John. Covering topics from Geology to Marine Biology to Fine Arts, there is a bit of everything within the museum collection.
Over the past few years I have had the opportunity to work at world class museums like the Hunterian and the Victoria and Albert Museum. The New Brunswick Museum’s collection is of equal status, the only difference is that the people of New Brunswick are unaware of the value and importance of the collection. Not only that, but the New Brunswick Museum opened in 1842 as Abraham Gesner’s Museum, and later re-opened in 1934 as the New Brunswick Museum, making the NBM Canada’s oldest continuing museum.
As I am sure many of you know last year the Provincial Government along with the Federal Government agreed to build a new building for the New Brunswick Museum. The site on the waterfront in Saint John has already been cleared and the building plans have already been designed and published. Unfortunately, on December 11th, our new Conservative Government under Blain Higgs cancelled the project.
I have had so many people ask me, why is this important, why does the museum need a new building? And this is my answer.
A new building for the New Brunswick Museum is not a want, like many people believe, it is a necessity. The New Brunswick Museum has been facing this battle for years trying to find a solution to where to house the collection and The New Brunswick Museum Exhibition centre is slowly falling apart. Both New Brunswick Museum buildings (Douglas Ave Collection Centre and the Market Square Exhibition Centre) are in terrible condition.
For example: This photo was taken on December 13th, two days after the New Brunswick Governments announcement. Is this how a museum should be left to deal with the numerous leaks, and flooding issues that the Exhibition centre in Market Square faces everyday? The answer is no. This is completely unacceptable for the government to continue ignoring the New Brunswick Museum’s needs.
I could write forever about how frustrated and disappointed I am. I want to have the option to have a New Brunswick Museum in my future. I want the New Brunswick Museum to continue preserving New Brunswick’s History. I want the New Brunswick Museum to be able to continue to display New Brunswick art and scientific specimens and to continue to teach people every day about how valuable our small province is. A new New Brunswick Museum building would brighten up the waterfront in Saint John and allow the city to continue to flourish in the arts scene.
I understand that the Province is currently in a difficult financial position, but the needs of the New Brunswick Museum need to be taken more seriously. A new museum building, is not a “100 million dollar warehouse” it is an institution of learning, and education is at the basis of everything.
Please help support the New Brunswick Museum by signing the petition started by the Chair of the Board Shannon Merrifield.