The Lacombe and District Historical Society is a few steps closer to moving its archives and opening up the Michener House.
At the Feb. 24, Lacombe County regular meeting, council designated $ 20,398 of funding towards the Lacombe and District Historical Society. The county will fund this contribution from the Recreation Capital Assistance Reserve.
Melissa Blunden, executive director at the Lacombe Museum said the funding will help the museum’s collection and archives facility project and enable the archives to be moved over to a bigger space in the Flatiron Building.
“We are so full, we have spilled out, for years now we have been spilling out,” said Blunden. Currently, the archives are in the Michener House but she said they have been lacking the proper space and archive system for a while now.
There are over 40,000 items in the archives currently including clothing, furniture, photographs, past editions of community newspapers and items from Roland Michener.
“It’s not the best, the basement is below the city of Lacombe’s water table.”
The archives must have proper ventilation, humidity control under the archival legislation in Alberta.
“The biggest will be accessibility, for us to get anything at the back of this shelf we have to pull all the other items out to get in there,” said Blunden. “It makes it harder for us and it makes it impossible for the community to access.”
When staff and volunteers need to go into the archives for research or to find items, other items have to be moved. Each move, even just outside the door means a risk of damaging the items.
“The less you touch an item, the longer it’ll live. So if we are constantly moving things out of the way, not even moving it to share it, just to move it out of the way and we are damaging it.”
New shelving will be purchased after a final contractor meeting next week, which will make displaying, storing and transporting of items safer and easier.
Once the archives are moved, there will be further renovations and organization at the Michener House to open it up for more displays and visitors. Blunden is hoping to begin the relocation of the archives this spring and summer if she can find help.
“It takes so much time. We were just chatting about how we are going to move everything,” said Blunden adding that the staff and volunteers are excited but also a bit overwhelmed. She explained that each item has to be tracked along its journey through the museum through tracking forms.
“We’re trying to involve the community, it’s their archives.”
Anyone interested in volunteering with the museum this spring and summer can contact Blunden at 403-782-3933.