Research: Alberta Community Museums Policy

The Dawson City Museum Project is ongoing. I am working with two Research Assistants to analyze and interpret the data. However, the writing stage can be a bit boring sometimes…. So, I have started a new project!

Broadly, I have an interest in subnational community museum policy. I have researched New Brunswick (NB), Ontario (ON), and Yukon (YK) programs, considering intersections with federal and municipal policies. Currently, I live and work in Alberta and have easier access to archival / library materials on Albertan museums. I am excited to start using these materials to consider the similarities or differences between policies in Alberta and the other subnational governments I have studied.

Why bother?

Alberta seems to be an interesting case study because there are significant similarities and differences when compared to NB, ON, or YK. I am excited to explore why policies developed in similar and/or different ways at the subnational levels and the effects.


Some interesting similarities

  • Both Ontario and Alberta have standards attached to funding for community museums.
  • In Alberta, New Brunswick, Ontario, and Yukon people advocated for subnational policy in the 1970s and/or 1980s in order to better access federal programs.
  • Museum associations were established or expanded during the 1970s.


The first document that I read related to Alberta community museum policy was a planning study for the provincial Reynolds-Alberta Museum. The study is interesting because of the rationale behind establishing the Museum. Essentially, existing museums, including community museums, were considered inadequate to preserve and interpret materials related to agriculture, industry, and transportation. The study states:

local and regional museums have been unable to provide adequate preservation for many large items, although some have made a valiant effort.

Alberta Culture 1983, 12

In NB, ON, and YK, observations about the low quality of local/regional museums – that is, community museums – despite the valiant efforts of those running the museums led to a more robust community museum support program at the subnational level. In Alberta, it led to a new museum with the resources to address existing limitations, which is a more centralized approach.

At the same time, Alberta has committed to an arms length funding model where museums access funds through the Alberta Museums Association rather than the provincial government, which is not a centralized approach.

I am looking forward to discovering more differences!


Do you have any experiences with Alberta Museum policy? What questions do you think I should be asking?


Alberta Culture. 1983. Reynolds-Alberta Museum. 

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