2021 MJM&AG Report Highlights the Price of Leadership, Diversity & Inclusion, and Pandemic Adaptations

The Moose Jaw Museum & Art Gallery (MJM&AG) held its Annual General Meeting (AGM) on April 28, the highlights of which were their Leadership Award from SK Arts, the diversity of their exhibits and programming, and adaptations successful in the pandemic.

The Moose Jaw Museum & Art Gallery (MJM&AG) held its Annual General Meeting (AGM) on April 28, the highlights of which were their Leadership Award from SK Arts, the diversity of their exhibits and programming, and adaptations successful in the pandemic.

2021 was the 55and year of operation for the MJM&AG. In May 2021, during the Sask Arts Award, he received the Leadership Award – Organization in recognition of his many years of diversity and inclusion in programming, his exhibitions, including those that successfully toured Sydney and Tokyo, and its involvement. with the broader arts community in Saskatchewan.

Judy Quon, chair of the board of MJM&AG, thanked curator and director Jennifer McRorie for “her professionalism and caring, tireless and skilful leadership.” She also thanked the staff for their hard work, dedication and professionalism.

A significant retirement took place in December when the MJM&AG bid farewell to longtime trainer Vivian Barber, who spent 23 years with the organization. Quon wished him luck on behalf of the board. McRorie said Barber’s expertise and care contributed greatly to the professionalism and quality of the programming offered by the organization and thanked her for her “obvious love for the collection”.

McRorie said in his remarks that the pandemic has brought about unprecedented adaptations for MJM&AG. Exhibitions had to be canceled or postponed, visitors restricted and the facility closed for a time. McRorie and his team looked for opportunities to be creative and responsive to relevant issues. They chose to focus on the equity of culturally diverse groups as a “front and center” issue.

“We focused on the work of women artists from Indigenous, Settler, Newcomer, culturally diverse, and LGBTQ2SIA+ communities, to address gender equity as well as cultural diversity.
equity. The result was the exhibition Fire in the belly“, said McRorie.

Fire in the Belly: Saskatchewan Women Artists was unveiled in February 2021 and used pieces from the museum’s permanent collection to showcase the work of female prairie artists from the 1960s to today, including Indigenous and LGBTQ2SIA+ artists.

McRorie noted at the time that female artists are still underrepresented, underpaid, and underrecognized compared to their male counterparts.

The MJM&AG has had great success adapting its educational programming online. They’ve partnered with Seniors’ Center Without Walls for group art lessons over the phone; Inclusion Saskatchewan, This is M3, and Moose Jaw Families for Change for innovative CREATEabilities programming for neurodiverse and special needs children and adults; the Multicultural Council for Summer Camps for Newcomers; Wakamow Aboriginal Community Association for National Day for Truth and Reconciliation programming; and partnered with the Moose Jaw Cultural Center to co-present I don’t have my wordswho explored the loss of Indigenous language due to deliberate colonial efforts such as the residential school system.

Last year, international attention was also brought to the discovery of hundreds of unmarked graves at residential schools across Canada, leading to an exhibit on the steps of St. Andrew’s United Church that united the community in support and mourning. Over 500 pairs of children’s shoes, stuffed animals and other reminders of childhood innocence are now part of the MJM&AG’s permanent collection and are displayed in the Heritage Gallery.

A review of MJM&AG’s financial position from 2021 is mixed. The museum and art gallery kept pace with their spending, even recording a slight surplus, but were only able to do so thanks to emergency funding from the provincial and federal governments.

“We’re actually staying afloat after being in a pandemic for two years,” McRorie said. “And that is, fortunately, thanks to the emergency funds that we have been able to access at the federal and provincial levels.

McRorie said the biggest losses came from not being able to hold their usual fundraisers, especially Park Art. Their educational programs are also still well below capacity.

However, the MJM&AG has seen improvements from 2020. McRorie said their online innovations and growing community participation in virtual programming have been an encouraging success.

Read the full report on the Museum & Art Gallery website.

James C. Tibbs