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New museum curator takes fresh approach to Terrace history

New hire Kennedy Neumann has a passion for history and a vision for the future
Kennedy Neumann is the new curator and manager at Heritage Park Museum in Terrace. (Photo by Michael Bramadat-Willcock)

Heritage Park Museum’s new curator Kennedy Neumann moved to Terrace in March and got started right away. She’s excited to showcase Terrace history this summer through a renewed focus on community events and programming.

“The welcome and the support that I’ve gotten from the community and help in just figuring out what everything is has been incredible,” Neumann said. “My main goal is to make it a welcoming, inclusive and accessible space.”

The museum will run tours throughout the summer and Neumann hopes to switch it up with different crafts and activities for families and children.

Highlights include a vintage car show on Father’s Day (June 19), Saint-Jean-Baptiste Day at the end of June and a community day on July 1, Canada Day.

Riverboat Days events for the August long weekend are still being figured out.

“I’m hoping to just have it open and get back into the swing of things… I want to build it up and get more and more involved with the community,” Neumann said of Heritage Park which was placed on a subdued schedule because of COVID-19 restrictions and precautions.

“I’m just excited to get people back in here and I know that community members love it, kids love it and of course, seniors love it.”

Neumann said she wants to continue the work of previous curator Kelsey Wiebe who built a “strong foundation for educational programming.”

“A lot of the people my age kind of grew up with the programming she established at the museum like the Hallowe’en stuff, the Easter egg hunt and the summer programming,” she said.

Neumann also wants to continue the work of her immediate predecessor Anna Glass by organizing the space and making plans to expand the museum’s collections and archival space.

She said an important part of caring for the museum’s collections is to obtain “appropriate” storage space for objects donated by the public.

“Ultimately we don’t just collect objects from the people of Terrace, it’s also that we’re pretty much responsible for Terrace archives.”

She said building relationships of acknowledgment and respect with Indigenous people and more diverse representation are priorities.

“It is a very settler, colonial museum and we’re aware of that. That’s still a really valid part of Terrace history that we’re not going to get rid of by any means, but there is an incredibly diverse population in the region. It’s hard to represent that in this kind of space,” Neumann said.

“Asian Canadian history in general is just huge in British Columbia and the fact that we don’t even have archives to represent that is, I think, problematic. It’s a Terrace and regional history museum and so all of that should be represented.”

She added that to her knowledge, there are no Indigenous artifacts at the museum but if any were found they would start discussions to have them returned.

Neumann said she’s taking more of a sustainable growth approach to expanding what the museum has to offer than doing everything all at once.

In the long term she hopes to make the museum more attractive to returning visitors with a more dynamic experience.

“Right now the exhibit spaces haven’t changed at all for years — maybe not even since they were originally put together,” Neumann said.

“Hopefully in the future we’ll have rotating pieces and different stories to tell and feature.”

Before making the move to Terrace, Neumann interned at the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria and then worked on contract for the Burnaby Village Museum.

She has a graduate certificate in museum management and curatorship from Fleming College in Peterborough, Ontario, and a bachelor’s degree in history and a minor in communications from Carleton University in Ottawa.

“I wanted to do something challenging and I found it,” Neumann said. “I’m passionate about representing the community well and doing this space justice.”

READ MORE: New curator starts at Terrace’s Heritage Park Museum

READ MORE: Heritage Park Museum updates mandate to reflect a more inclusive one


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