Canmore Museum Re-Imagined Strategy

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2021 - 2024

strategic plan

the canmore museum reimagined building the museum of the future ... today ty i n u m com

These mountains are our temples, our sanctuaries, and our resting places. They are a place of hope, a place of vision, a place of refuge, a very special and holy place where the Great Spirit speaks with us. Therefore, these mountains are our sacred places. Chief John Snow


Canmore and all the Bow Valley is located on the traditional lands of Indigenous Peoples as referred to in the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. This relationship to the land is further declared by the National Indian Brotherhood (now Assembly of First Nations), in A Declaration of The First Nations (1981). Historically, there is a long-standing connection to the Bow Valley around Canmore for many Indigenous nations – Stoney Nakoda, Blackfoot, Tsuut’ina, Ktunaxa, Secwépemc, Dene, Mountain Cree, and Métis. The Canmore Museum is located within Treaty 7 territory, traditional territories and home of the Stoney Nakoda (Bearspaw, Chiniki, and Wesley), Blackfoot Confederacy (Kainai, Piikani, and Siksika, and Tsuut’ina Nations, as well as Zone 3 Metis. We acknowledge and appreciate that we live, work, and play in their territory and commit to the work of reconciliation.

In the course of developing and implementing initiatives which fulfill this four year strategic plan, the Canmore Museum has committed to the following implementation principle: Indigenous peoples have agency in their journeys of revitalizing and participating in traditional, contemporary, and future manifestations of their culture. Indigenous Peoples of this territory freely choose whether to participate in Canmore’s art, culture and heritage sector and they determine how they will participate. This principle ensures that the Canmore Museum delivers this plan in such a way that we never create barriers or interfere with the ongoing development of Indigenous cultural independence.

index the museum today Welcome What We Do Who We Do It With Trends Affecting How We Do It

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a museum re-imagined

The idea of experiences in a museum? This seems much more interesting than "looking at old stuff in a locked cabinet". Experiences lead to better connections and understanding.”

Re-Imagining the Canmore Museum Vision, Mission, and Values 2021 to 2024 Strategic Plan Building Community Building Place Building Memory Building Sustainability Guiding Principles Transparent Decision Making Beyond 2024

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welcome The re-imagined Canmore Museum serves a dynamic, growing community in the 21st century by flipping the traditional role and purpose of museums on its head. In doing so, we make the following promise to the Canmore community and its visitors: By 2024, the Canmore Museum will be a space where diverse voices are heard, where deeper connections with one another and the landscapes around us can be made, and the long-term sustainability of our local community and the natural environment all round us is at the fore front of every decision we make. Whether Canmore has been your home for five weeks, five generations or five millennia, we promise that your story will be reflected throughout the museum’s public spaces, in our collections and in our programming.

Since its humble beginnings in the early 1980s, the Canmore Museum has established itself as a community organization valued for its contributions to Canmore’s cultural and social life. We welcome over 25,000 visitors a year into our two facilities and our school and community programs allow us to annually work with nearly two thousand local students and families. Each summer, visitors and locals look for our Roving Scientist interpreters on Canmore trails or join one of our many adventure experiences. We also bring the museum to the community through walking tours of historic sites easily accessible from the Museum and host numerous events throughout the year.

The role of museums in the service of society continues to evolve. In addition to its traditional role as the collector and preserver of a community’s tangible and intangible cultural heritage, museums have become the cultural, educational and civic centers of their communities with growing power to empower and effect community change. RON ULRICH EXECUTIVE OFFICER CANMORE MUSEUM




board development | society governance + management | operational monitoring and evaluating | policy development and monitoring





administration business planning, budgeting + reporting board support | community relations fund development + grants facilities | hr | marketing + communications


VISITOR + MEMBERSHIP SERVICES membership development + services member programs member communications visitor research | visitor services retail management



education program heritage garden program interpretive planning collections planning + development exhibition planning + management interpretive staff + docent training curating temporary exhibitions program communications heritage advisory services public programming

special events



museum school programs museum@school program NWMP Barracks Education Centre school program communications education collection




ARCHIVES + COLLECTIONS registering + cataloguing maintaining the accessions ledger | collections + archives researching developing + maintaining archives preventative conservation storage | exhibition support



h t i w who we do it for The Canmore Museum has identified several relationships which will be important to develop and nurture as we look to expand and diversify our participants, supporters and community partnerships to accurately reflect our community and its diverse needs. EXISTING COMMUNITIES

Visitors Schools Seniors Members Since its inception in 1984, the Canmore Museum has worked with numerous communities within Canmore to deliver a diversity of programs to meet the needs of the local, more traditional museum audiences We are looking to deepen our relationship with these existing communities and their affiliated community organizations. They serve as an excellent springboard with whom we can begin to cocreate experiences that build long-lasting connections, learning, and support for the Museum.



Stoney Nakoda Francophone Youth New Arrivals These are communities of people we see as part of our long-term future who have had little representation at the Canmore Museum in the past. We are looking to begin a relationship with these communities and desire to develop long-term partnerships with organizations affiliated with these communities. For more information about these communities and the organizations we have identified as potential partners, see Appendix I.


Post Mining Recreational Hospitality LGBTQ+ Canmore is a diverse community including numerous people who came to Canmore sometime after the mines closed. These people are second home owners, people who regularly come to Canmore to enjoy the recreational opportunities the area affords and members of the service industry or the growing LGBTQ+ community who are seeking opportunities outside larger centers. We are looking to start conversations with these communities to understand their needs and any perceived barriers to participation.

ds n e r t shaping how we do it THE 24/7 DIGITAL MUSEUM Digital technologies and the increased access to information impact how our collections, research, programs, and services are accessed. It also impacts how we engage with our members, audiences/visitors and community. The rise of the "smart" museum - data shaping the visitor experience - at the museum, at home, at school and in the community - are creating new business models and opportunities for revenue generation.

THE MUSEUM AS THE THIRD PLACE Museums encourage multiple perspectives and viewpoints from across communities and groups to be shared. Museums are increasingly becoming a place to connect with one another and a place for public discourse and informal learning.

RACIALIZED COMMUNITIES The Black Lives Matter movement has drawn global attention to the need to meaningfully address community equality + diversity with BIPOC communities.

DEMOGRAPHIC SHIFTS Museums are grappling with world-wide shifts in demographics, power and knowledge transfer and a growing population shift away from larger centres.

THE SHIFTING ROLE OF COMMUNITY MUSEUMS Gone are the days where a museum was just four walls housing a town’s artifacts, hoping that visitors would be inspired to visit. With the evolution of community demographics, visitor trends and technological advances comes the necessity and opportunity for the evolution of museums. 21st century museums are increasingly taking stronger stands on issues facing communities and the world around them, including the environment to improve public awareness and understanding . In doing so, they become more integral to the community and foster a sense of pride, which in turn makes community members the museum’s biggest ambassadors in attracting visitors.

SHIFTS AWAY FROM CORE FUNDING, DROP IN CHARITABLE GIVING Over the past several years, non-profits have seen an ongoing shift away from core funding and a greater reliance on short-term project funding and earned revenues - both impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Further to this, per capita expenditures on culture have not kept up with inflation or population increases. Donation rates are dropping, with the largest decline in giving from those aged 45+.

LIVING LOCAL | LOCAL ARISTS, PRODUCERS and SOLUTIONS Stemming from a wider living local movement, cultural organizations and institutions are placing greater emphasis on finding, utilizing and showcasing locally sourced products, talent and solutions and on providing greater local cultural content as community museums.


d e n i g a m i e r the canmore museum Re-imagining how to connect more authentically with our community has resulted in six major community-driven changes which now focus our work on bringing people together around local art, culture, heritage and places to build a stronger, more connected community.


WHAT’S IN A NAME? The change of our name from “Canmore Museum and Geoscience Centre” in September 2020 to “Canmore Museum” embraces a new definition of museum that was put forward by the International Council of Museums (ICOM) in 2019. This new definition of museum provides a big tent under which both the traditional and emerging role that Canmore Museum must play in the 21 century can find a home.


CHANGING OUR FOCUS FROM GEOSCIENCE TO PLACEMAKING This change of name is also a result of the shift of focus from creating understanding of place through the lens of geoscience to that of understanding ourselves in relationship to our natural and cultural landscapes and how we engage with “this place” (past, present and future). This shift starts with a wholehearted commitment to providing space for our Stoney Nakoda neighbours to share the oral traditions which give meaning to this place and transcend millennia, stories where political and the economic and the social and cultural threads are Interwoven and speak of the Stoney’s deep reverence and association with nature and “this place”.



A FOCUS ON RELATIONSHIP BUILDING Meaningful relationships with members of our community which are deepened over time will become the heart of the Canmore Museum. It’s a stark contrast to our past focus on onetime visitors who pay their admission, walk through the Discovery Hall, buy a small gift in the shop, and disappear into the crowd of 4.65 million people who visit the Canadian Rockies each year. Our mission will be achieved only if we foster meaningful relationships with and between members of our community, whether they have lived in Canmore five weeks, call Canmore a second home, or their family has lived in Canmore for five generations, The tangible outcome of this shift in our approach is the community forms an deep connection with the museum and becomes our biggest ambassadors over time beginning with their first exposure to the museum over the course of a school year in Grade 3 to summer camps as youth, to socially focused programs throughout their adult life and bringing visiting friends and family to the museum.


COMMUNITY PARTNERSHIPS, COMMUNITY CO-CREATORS We will connect with our local community in more effective, authentic ways around culture, heritage and local landscapes. The more we are representative OF our community, the more people feel seen and heard. The more programming is created BY our community, the more people feel ownership. The more programming is FOR our community, the more everyone wants to participate.

OF / BY / FOR ALL We believe that the most powerful way to become relevant FOR diverse communities in Canmore is to become representative OF them and co-created BY them. Working with community partners, we can work together to share resources and achieve mutual goals which strengthen our community. RON ULRICH EXECUTIVE OFFICER CANMORE MUSEUM





The community of Canmore and the Canmore Museum are players on a national and international stage. Our community hosts visitors from all corners of the globe. Internationally recognized experts in numerous fields from science to sport to culture call Canmore home. Our community has hosted international sporting events, and athletes from around the world continue to train and compete at local facilities. As a result, our local identity continues to be influenced at a national and global scale, and so thus must the work of the Canmore Museum.

To help us understand and engage with our visitors in a more meaningful way, the Canmore Museum will begin to collect and use data a more meaningful way. This data can include data gathered from surveys and polls with data gained from analyzing how visitors engage with our website and third party apps (ticket and retail sales). This data holds valuable information and yields interesting ways to analyse how our visitors engage with the museum. The Canmore Museum is exploring the use of smart technology to drive the creation of everchanging, tailored visitor experiences in the museum.


d e n i g a m i e r our vision, mission, and values vision We deliver compelling and remarkable experiences which celebrate community, place and culture.

mission Our mission is to ignite shared experiences and unexpected connections. To do this, we find, spark, preserve and trade stories, ideas, and elements of creativity drawn from people in Canmore and the Bow Valley. We bring people together around local art, culture, heritage and places to build a stronger, more connected community.

values Collaboration Courage Engagement Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Innovation Learning The Remarkable and Unexpected Servant Leadership Sustainability


This vision is inviting! I applaud the inclusion of culture and place with discussion of community. I immediately think only of history when I hear the word museum. Your vision is NOW, engaging and, with community added, it is inviting.” FOCUS GROUP PARTICIPANT, 2021 REIMAGINING THE CANMORE MUSEUM

What would Canmore look like 20 years from now? I think there are people who would like to visit a museum where there is a sense of where we are going to translate our past into a way forward. To understand where we are going in terms of a community ... in terms of a town." FOCUS GROUP PARTICIPANT, 2021 REIMAGINING THE CANMORE MUSEUM



building community

The Canmore Museum will help build a stronger and more connected community by bringing together people from all walks of life around local art, culture, heritage and places in unexpected ways which foster dialogue and deepen social connections.



Provide a safe space to foster open dialogue with the purpose of increasing and strengthening community connections and to increase a sense of belonging and community trust.

social bridging We will bring together unlikely collaborators-across artistic and historical practices, socioeconomics backgrounds, race/ethnicity, gender and age and audience members to help build a more cohesive community through shared exploration of Canmore's culture, heritage, and local landscapes.

social cohesion

Bring members of the Canmore community together to share their stories to foster a greater understanding of different perspectives among diverse ages, ethnic, religious and gender backgrounds.

Provide a space for visitors to engage with locals in ways that showcase local culture, heritage and understanding of place.


We will foster shared community values and identity by focusing on activities which promote greater community dialogue and participation in solving shared community issues and problems using the lens of culture, heritage and engagement with local landscapes.

social capital We will create and strengthen social networks, bonding similar people and bridging between diverse people by exploring culture, heritage and place.

community engagement We will identify and address what people care about, focusing on delivering experiences which foster greater community engagement and participation in culture, heritage and sustainable engagement with place.

Each year, produce grown at the NWMP Barracks Provincial Historic Site garden is donated to the local food bank. Fifteen volunteers work over 1,800 hours to manage and tend the garden each summer.

outcomes The Canmore Museum will establish a new foundation of purposeful engagement with the community resulting in: The creation of a forum and events for robust, respectful civic dialogue around issues facing our community or region, grounded in the past and looking to the future that has widespread participation and is reflective of the diverse community of Canmore. An increase in meaningful connections between visitors, newcomers and long-time residents as well as residents with different social, cultural and economic perspectives. Programming and events that allow residents and visitors to engage with each other in positive ways that help foster a greater understanding of local natural and built landscapes. Community-created programming that promotes equitable cultural expression. Partnerships with a range of local organizations that incorporate the Canmore Museum into a robust web of community engagement initiatives. Culture and heritage have suffiicient visibility within the community to be acknowledged as a fundamental component of community building.



building place

Place is everywhere. In large and small ways, it is significant in how we make meaning of the world and within our lives. Place is where we come from, where we feel alive, where we connect with others and where we feel we belong. Connections to Canmore and the Bow Valley are personal, anywhere and every day. The Canmore Museum will build deeper connections with local places and the stories they hold.



To facilitate the ability for the Stoney Nakoda and other Indigenous people to share their stories and sense of place with the community.

a deeper understanding of place.

To connect the community to our built environment and the stories that these structures and places tell. To connect people to the natural environment outside the four walls of the Canmore Museum and to foster an appreciation of the inter-relationships through time between people, events and natural and cultural places including associated intangible and tangible values.


Our individual and shared community understanding of the natural, cultural and built landscapes that form the local environment in which we live, work and recreate and how these have evolved over time is deepened, and the desire to protect these landscapes is nurtured.

a deeper sense of connection and belonging. Our sense of connection with the local natural, cultural and built environment and our sense of belonging is deepened by engaging with one another and our landscapes.

a deeper identification with place. Identifying with Canmore is shaped and deepened by engagement with our local environment and one another over time, arriving at a place where identity and our memories and understanding of place intertwine.

Canmore offers a unique opportunity to connect with the natural environment.

outcomes As a museum working at the intersection of history, environment and culture, we must acknowledge the power of place in provoking connections to our community and within our community. By 2024, we will have: An increased presence and visibility of Indigenous culture and people in our community. Canmore residents and visitors have deeper insights into and an appreciation for the world view of the Stoney Nakoda and their understanding of the Bow Valley from their sharing of customs, ceremonies, stories, teachings, and traditional knowledge, craft and games. Annual surveys demonstrate that residents and visitors feel a greater connection to, and a deeper sense of emotional attachment with Canmore’s natural, cultural and built landscapes. A network of remarkable heritage-based experiences provide opportunity for residents and visitors to effectively connect with Canmore’s heritage.


3 building memory The Canmore Museum will deepen connections to the inter-connected web of over 10,000 years of human history told through multiple perspectives. These stories are shared verbally, in writing, through objects, through documents and records, through art, through places and through digital storytelling and future innovation that allows individuals to find their connections to Canmore and the Bow Valley.



Create a well-documented core artifact collection and an education collection with the support of a community-based advisory committee and in line with Canadian standards of Canadian museum practice.

tangible cultural heritage

Begin documenting the tangible and intangible heritage of Canmore’s cultural communities and their cultural and heritage practices and memories. Identify, document and protect Canmore’s historic and cultural places in a way that engages and includes all aspects of our public, including the Stoney Nakoda people.


The community trusts that the legacy of physical artefacts and records of a group or society that are inherited by the museum from past generations, maintained in the present and bestowed for the benefit of future generations are well documented, protected and conserved in line with community values.

intangible cultural heritage Systematically embedding cultural mapping processes into the everyday work of the Canmore Museum. This includes mapping, documenting and preserving the practices, representations, expressions, as well as the knowledge and skills that communities, groups and, in some cases, individuals, recognize as part of their cultural heritage in Canmore and the Bow Valley.

built heritage The community values Canmore's historic environment, including buildings, cultural and natural environments, people and events, and understands how the community has evolved and changed over time.

Elder Una Wesley of the Chiniki Band speaking at the renaming ceremony of the peak Anû Kathâ Îpa, translated in English as Bald Eagle Peak, on September 29, 2020. Chosen as the elder to declare the traditional name, Wesley is the eldest of matriarchs in the band.

outcomes Canmore’s heritage is a diverse collection of tangible and intangible qualities and places. We will consider, understand, respect and sustain Canmore’s unique and evolving heritage as we add new layers over time. Surveys demonstrate that the community can articulate what it values about Canmore’s heritage and the development of our collections and programs are informed by the community’s heritage values. Canmore residents increasingly feel more connected to and grounded by stories of places, people and events have shaped the community they live in today. The community values its heritage, resulting in community-based actions which protect, conserve and sustain what makes Canmore great and unique – historically, here and now, and into the future. The Museum’s stewardship of Canmore’s community heritage provides opportunity that change, growth, and development in the community is informed by an understanding that Canmore’s unique character and historic landscape is the result of the ongoing layering and interaction of economic, social cultural and natural values over time.



building sustainability

Canmore places high value on its sense of community, strong community identity, and on environmental sustainability. In partnering with other community organizations and local government to help foster community and environmental sustainability, the Canmore Museum will strengthen its own organizational vitality, identity and sustainability.



Better understand what the community values about its heritage and culture and to reflect those values back to the community through the programs and services we offer.

community sustainability Inclusive and diverse relationships are the foundation of our community-focused programs and services as we foster an awareness of community issues and contribute to local positive change.

environmental sustainability

Better understand what the community values about its natural environment and how they engage with the natural, cultural and built environments that are Canmore. Create stability and long-term sustainability in our business model and practices. A commitment to equity, diversity and inclusion within its board, staff and volunteers will help focus our work to provide broad, affordable access to the community for our programs and services.


Intentional decisions minimize our environmental footprint, individually and organizationally, and we work with our assets to increase energy efficiency and reduce waste.

organizational sustainaibility Predictability, stability, transparency, and accountability in decision making, expectations and motivation is supported by our clearly defined vision. A balance of revenue and relevance contributes to our long-term stability.

The Canmore Museum offers a number of opportunities to engage with the natural landscapes in a manner which promotes enviornmental sustainability.

outcomes Self-generated revenues increase annually to ensure financial sustainability. 50% year-over-year increase in individual and family memberships. 25% year-over-year increases in the number of donations being made and the total amount of donations to meet operational and project requirements. Annual increases in the number of donors part of the Champions' Circle. 25% year-over-year increases in strategic funding partnerships, including sponsorships and grants to meet operational and project requirements. A membership that is demonstrably engaged as participants, drivers, creators and funders. An annually-increasing base of sustained community partnerships with local/regional organizations. The museum can point to a measurable decrease in the Museum’s environmental footprint by 2024, in alignment with the Town of Canmore’s declaration of a local climate emergency. Award-based recognition for working with community stakeholders to create positive change on locally identified social or environmental issues.


our commitment As a community cultural and social agency seeking to address community needs and issues, the Canmore Museum is adopting the following principles as it works to build a stronger, more connected community. We are accountable to our community to act in the following manner as we become the re-imagined Canmore Museum.


The Canmore Museum embraces a participatory approach to community engagement by offering every visitor and member of the community a legitimate way to contribute to the institution. We want everyone to be able to share things of interest, connect with other people and feel ike an engaged and respected participant as they do so. The Canmore Museum pledges that we serve as a “platform” that connects different users who act as content creators, distributors, consumers, critics and collaborators.


The Canmore Museum acknowledges that our role as a community centre includes a social contract with, and responsibility to, the people of our region. We wholeheartedly embrace the importance of our roles in culture, the arts, heritage and general society with a focus on helping build a stronger, more connected community.


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The Canmore Museum desires to establish long-term relationships and respectful and equitable partnerships with other community groups seeking to strategically build community and address community issues and needs.

The Canmore Museum embraces organizational change and is actively pursuing the transformation into a learning institution.

The Canmore Museum embraces a “beyond the four walls” and the “community as museum” approach. Our museum building will become a community hub and a site for the museum’s indoor activities, but we will also engage with our audiences elsewhere in the region as need and opportunity arises.

Grade 3 students on a site visit to the Lafarge Exshaw plant as part of the Canmore Museum's Grade 3 field trip experiences. Lafarge Exshaw has been a long-time financial supporter of the Canmore Museum's education program.



In adopting a “community as museum” or an open or living museum approach, the Canmore Museum takes on a responsibility for the community’s heritage in a far more wholistic sense by: Extending our understanding of heritage to include natural, cultural and built heritage. Extending our duty of care beyond Canmore’s tangible and intangible heritage to include Canmore’s natural, cultural and built landscapes and heritage by promoting an integrated approach to the protection and valorization of heritage in situ. Our work in heritage is intrinsically tied to Canmore’s broader cultural and economic development strategies where the work of placemaking plays a vital role in developing and promoting Canmore as a quality place to live, work and recreate.

As an organization, we will act in a manner that addresses and enhances the sustainability of our community and our natural, built and cultural landscapes. We pledge to raise public awareness and support research and knowledge creation to contribute to the well-being of the planet and societies for future generations.



nd beyo2024 The 2021 to 2024 Canmore Museum Re-Imagined Strategy has re-built our community museum from inside out and establishes a new foundation on which future growth of the museum can occur. By 2024, the Canmore Museum will be working beyond the walls of the organization, partnering with numerous like-minded organizations to serve the needs of a growing 21st century mountain community. Collectively, we will build bridges, establish common ground and foster deeper connections with one another and the landscapes around us. Together, we will build a stronger, more connected community. Looking to the future, the Canmore Museum Re-Imagined Strategy establishes the foundations for a new, purpose-built museum facility. It defines why a new facility is needed - to provide dynamic spaces where our community gathers to engage with one another, where meaningful exploration of Canmore past and present informs our shared future, and where innovative smart-museum technologies create exciting, everchanging visitor experiences. A museum that is a space of interaction, participation and engagement. We invite you to join us on the journey as together we build the museum of the future ... today.



c 2021

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