Friends of the Royal Alberta Museum Society say the move downtown opens up new opportunities to develop an engaged community around the facility.

With moving day on the horizon, Friends of the Royal Alberta Museum Society (FRAMS) are keen for a head start engaging with their new downtown community.

Coinciding with International Museum Day on May 18, the organization will host a panel discussion entitled ‘The lowdown on moving downtown’ at the Art Gallery of Alberta. The conversation, featuring leaders from the museum and city, will discus the new building’s architecture, exhibits and how the institution will fit in with a rejuvenated downtown core.

“We have a community based around Glenora, and as we go downtown there is an opportunity to rethink a lot of things,” FRAMS president Chris Radojewski said. “We want to start and really create that downtown community. We’re looking to increase what we’re doing with our core programs.”

FRAMS is seeking to engage a new demographic with these types of events and expand the reach of their existing programs. The number of school visits to the new museum, for example, could increase exponentially and the Indigenous Student Museum Internship will add another paid intern placement.

“We’re trying to get people engaged and involved by creating a community, and that starts with this discussion,” Radojewski said. “There’s a cultural vibrancy developing downtown, and the museum will provide more opportunities for students and the public.”

Ian O’Donnell, executive director of the Downtown Business Association, said the panel discussion should give the neighbourhood a sense of what is to come when the museum moves later this year.

“It’s one of those projects that will make downtown a different place and give it a different feel,” O’Donnell said. “It’s certainly going to compliment the rest of the arts district and play off its neighbours.”

O’Donnell said the new community FRAMS is seeking to build could come from a variety of different people and demographics in the new vicinity.

“While the old location was majestic, it was tucked away. This location is more visible, inviting and displays a collective ownership,” O’Donnell said.

“It’s straddling a couple of different communities, so it feels like it’s a museum for everyone and I hope we all respond to that in Edmonton and around the province.”

While the panel discussion will be a launching pad for the process, chairman of FRAMS communications committee Kelley Abercrombie said community-building takes a determined effort.

“What we’re trying to do is focus on accessibility to the museum, removing barriers that are not just financial, but also psychological and social,” she said.

“Some people don’t see themselves as museum-goers, and we’re trying to create that environment through opportunities, events and other forms of engagement that are light, fun and focused on creating a community around the museum.”


Museum society reaching out to new neighbours

By Mitch Goldenberg, Postmedia Edmonton

Wednesday, May 17, 2017 3:06:03 MDT PM