Grande Prairie Museum
Interest in developing a museum in Grande Prairie
began in the mid-1950s when local individuals began collecting
artifacts, fossils, arrowheads and curios. Today, some forty years
later, Grande Prairie Museum consists of one large (75 x 150 feet)
structure housing collections, displays, administration and
programming activities. A two-acre site contains 10 buildings
including, original structures, replicas and a storage shed. The
museum pays no taxes or rent, while the City also covers all
insurance, snow removal and preventive maintenance. The museum
collection, meanwhile, has grown to over 48,000 items under five main
themes: Paleontology, Natural History, Archaeology, Human History and
Curios and Collections. The collection data is already, in part,
The membership, currently 200 strong, elects a
Board of Directors, which in turn hires an Administrator/Curator who
is responsible for all facets of museum operation. An Administrative
Assistant, Interpretive Programs Coordinator, Archival Assistant and
Collection Care Coordinator, in addition to the Administrator/Curator,
make up the core staff. Seasonal and project staff are employed as
well. Over 100 volunteers help out at the museum with a core
group of 40 providing most of the 5,000 volunteer hours recorded
In 1999 the museum received funds from the City of
Grande Prairie and from an estate, to conduct a feasibility study on
the creation of a regional archives. The response was overwhelmingly
positive and under the direction of a local committee called by the
museum, the archives became a reality in January 2000. With support
from the City and County of Grande Prairie, an interim operating space
was created at the museum. As a result of this Grande Prairie Museum
initiative, over 33 linear metres of material has been donated and 51
individuals and organizations have been archived and made available to
the public. The City, Country and neighbouring County of Greenview,
now support South Peace Regional Archives operations, the only public
archives north of Edmonton.
The museum provides a permanent exhibit in the main
gallery presenting the history and prehistory of the area; temporary
and traveling exhibits in the Mel Rodacker Gallery; a Recent
Acquisition display; a Community Showcase exhibit and 10 heritage
buildings furnished to their period. Off-site displays at Grande
Prairie Airport, Grande Prairie Public Library, and Prairie Art
Gallery are provided as well.
Programs at the museum fall into three general
categories. The first is interpretation and demonstration of pioneer
crafts and activities including Sundays of the Past in summer and
theme presentations, which compliment temporary displays. Over 5,000
children visit the museum annually.
There are seven curriculum based school programs
including the Pioneer Experience Program (PEP), Fur and Feather
Families, The Working Barn, Native Know-how, Plains Survival,
Discovering Dinosaurs, Pioneer Playtime, Scavenger Hunts and the Edson
Trail and Treaty 8 travelling education kits.
The third category features special events such as
Fiddlers Jamboree, Harvest Festival and Fowl Supper, the Living
Village, Heritage Day, Mother's Day and Father's Day events, with help
of many of our dedicated volunteers.
The museum also provides access to its collection
for researchers and genealogists. Volunteers also do limited research
when queries are received from out of the area.
Grande Prairie Museum also plays a major role in
the regional museum community, hosting joint (Regional Museum)
projects for the Spirit of the Peace-a group of 27 museums
that collaborate on many projects and meet quarterly. In 1999 a
comprehensive travelling exhibit on Treaty 8 plus an education kit, was
produced by the group for display in Alberta museums.
In May, 1997, Grande Prairie Museum hosted its
first District Heritage Fair, which falls under the National Heritage
Fair Programme, sponsored by the CRB Foundation. Hundreds of area
students take part, creating displays about their heritage. Three
projects are chosen to attend the National Fair each year. Currently
Grande Prairie Museum and Peace River Centennial Museum alternate the
hosting of the Northern Alberta heritage Fair for two years at a time.
Thus, the museum serves the local and regional
community, schools and researchers and the 20,000 visitors who come
through the gates annually.
Visit the Grande Prairie Museum's Website: