The B.C. Farm Museum needs more room.
“The farm museum is loaded to the rafters – literally – with historical agricultural and pioneer life artifacts,” explained Grace Muller, one of the museum directors. “Museum expansion is a topic the directors are actively discussing and pursuing. Museum expansion would require funds. The Help Load the Wagon appeal is one tool towards raising needed funds.”
The campaign which has a goal to raise $300,000 received some neighbourly help recently.
On Thursday, Nov. 5, members of the Blair family stopped by to contribute $10,000.
“The Blair family donation is much appreciated as it gives our Help Load the Wagon appeal a very generous boost. But just as valuable – if not more so – were the stories shared by Doug Blair as he spoke with our volunteers about his life and adventures in Langley growing up on Langview Farm. Priceless information and memories,” Muller said.
The museum is also home to some Blair family memorabilia.
“Doug donated his entire bound collection of Hoard’s Dairymen magazine to us recently,” she said.
The neighbours across the way also helped fill the campaign coffers.
“ConWest representatives attended a farm museum directors’ meeting to give us an update on what they are planning for the neighborhood. At that time Conwest made a $5,000 donation,” she added.
ConWest’s subsidiary is constructing housing on the lot across the street from the farm museum.
The repository of the community’s farming history has been typically receiving more modest contributions.
“Individual donations have ranged from $10 to $5,000… with one family of brothers combining their funds into a $10,000 donation. All donations are appreciated and respected,” Muller said. “These have been trying times financially for many individuals.
The fundraising campaign is needed to help the museum move into the future. The BC Farm Museum is owned and operated by a non-profit association, and everyone involved is there for the love of history and agriculture.
“The association members are all volunteers. We have no paid staff. Everything – from managing, repairing, restoring, fund raising, exhibit improvements, daily operation, future planning – is done by volunteers. Most volunteers are retired who bring their working life skills to museum operation,” she commented. Like a jigsaw puzzle – all the various skills brought to the organization make for a great museum.”
Most of the museum’s finances come from those who stop by to see the collections
“Admission donations are our main source of income… but that is not enough to finance special projects,” Muller explained. “All levels of government and numerous private individuals offer grants for specific purposes or projects, and we have been fortunate through the years to have many of our grant applications approved. Our policy is ‘raise the funds first – then do the project.’ This policy has kept us financially stable for 55 years. This policy applies to museum expansion also.”
Help Load the Wagon started in late June.
“Turned out to be terrible timing on our part,” Muller commented. “Sudden record heat, extreme fire conditions causing so many humanitarian issues, and an opportunity to finally get outdoors for summer activities were challenges. Yet we are grateful that our membership is continually responding positively and the fund is growing. Depending on how Directors discussions go forward it will probably run until the end of 2022.”
Tax receipts are given to donors and major donors names are added to the donor board and museum website.
The museum is open to the public April 1 to Sept. 30. In the off season volunteers work around the Museum every Monday and most Thursdays, all vaccinated and staying in their own bubbles.
“During the off season we welcome school field trips, seniors groups’, or any group by reservation,” she said. “This year we installed heat in the first building so that will make winter tours a much more pleasant experience.”
All guests must be vaccinated and wear masks. The museum has ample room for social distancing and has guests use sanitizer as they enter.
Before COVID-19, guests could try out equipment or see demonstrations of how things used to be done in decades gone-by.
“We are not doing any demonstrations on how items work during COVID,” she added. “Our interactive presentation terminals are also not in use until COVID is done. We are allowing one carriage, one 1919 Ford and one outside tractor for photo ops because they are easy to disinfect.”
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