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Grande Prairie Museum

Campbell Cabin at Grande Prairie MuseumInterest 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, computerized. The Tempest House and Post Office at Grande Prairie Museum

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 annually.

The Golden Spike, Edmonton, Dunvegan & British Columbia RailwayIn 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Prairie Museum initiative, over 33 linear metres of material has been donated and 51 individuals and organizations have been archived and made available to the public.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 ofFire hall at Grande Prairie Museum 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.

McQueen Presbyterian Church at Grande Prairie MuseumIn 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: http://www.grandeprairiemuseum.org/

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