Wednesday November 26, 2014

Museums show use were we’ve been and where we’re going

Lookin’ Around Town

I often end my writing with a quote that reflects what I have written. This time I will start off with a quote which comes from Tolkien “To know where we come from helps us to know where we are going.”

History is important that history comes to us in the form of information, documentation but the best of all is artifacts. When we see a model T Ford we can see the simple, and sometimes crude technology that was the groundwork for other engineers to build upon. This is how most of the creations of mankind started, with a simple working idea that generates the groundwork upon which all further advances are based.

Often, the generation of people who saw that first model come into being were privileged to be there to see the prototypes and were in awe of the engineering that brought them about. My generation was exposed to such a ground breaking bit of technology when the first home computers were set in front of us. Who of us can’t remember the first Commodore computers and our thrill over the things they could do for us. They saved me many hours using white out (if you saw me typing you could appreciate how much time that would be). The backspace key is the most used key on my keyboard. But today, when I think of those same computers, they rate right up with the first horseless carriages in their crudeness.

This comparison is critical in seeing where we have come from and realizing how important each and every advancement was along the way from that model “T’ car to the luxurious cars we drive today. If you have ever had the joy starting Henry Ford’s car for the masses, which I have done regularly at the Western Development Museum as a volunteer, you would be more thankful of the development of the electric starter. You would be especially thankful in the winter when it would be a killer to try to start anything with a crank. But if some other engineer had not had Henry’s crank start car they would not have had the need to create a more relaxing way of starting it.

The same goes for the modern computer. If we had not had those old Commodores the advancements that make up today’s high speed units would not have come about. There is so much we have today that is based on the past, built on ideas and inventions of the past, that we could say that there are few original ideas. Those that do come about spawn infinite improvements found in the many products that save us so much work today.

It is because of this history is so important to us and to future generations. This is why it is so important that we preserve artifacts from the past to show each generation how things were done and how those pieces grew one from the other. It is through these that many aspiring inventors get the inspiration to build the new improved versions that will lead to the future. This is why museums are such an important part of all advancing societies. Here in this wonderful province of Saskatchewan we can thank the foresight of our forefathers for creating the second largest museum system in this great country of Canada.

The Western Development Museum is one of the greatest preservers of history that is available to all of our residents, young and old. It is not just a place for seniors to relive, which is important, but it is a place to show and teach our younger generations where we have come from to show and inspire them into the future. Over the years this network of museums has kept our history, the chronicle of where we came from, alive. In those years, there have been many lean times when funding that keeps it going was cut or limited by governments who had extremely poor vision about what is important to a culture and a society. Thanks to volunteers and benefactors who stepped up it has survived to be there for our thriving society. But again it is in the throes of a downturn in finances due to short sighted and poorly informed governance.

A while ago, when the present government came down with their budget, the museum took a hit. Is there anyone who does not feel and understand what the inflation rate has done to our budget? When we go to the store and find prices have gone up by 10 per cent at a time when our wages have stayed the same, it is without question that we have taken a backwards step.

It does not take a rocket scientist to see that holding our income stationary is in essence, a cut in our family’s funding. Yet, when people have written to the government to ask that they revisit their decision to hold their funding to the museum static, their response was to state they were not causing any hardship but were actually improving the financial situation by a fictitious number.

All one has to do is look at the cutbacks that the museum has had to institute to realize there is something wrong with those figures.

If I get a zero per cent increase in a time period where inflation has been 10 per cent does that not constitute a cut to my operational ability? If you have been one of many who sent letters to the provincial government on the matter of museum funding and have received one of these letter stating nefarious figures, I would suggest that you talk with your MLA and ask them to improve the level of honesty that is granted the voting public.

Remember, I gave the quote at the start. Have a great day, my friends.



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