Wednesday, May 29, 2013

A time of growth for Heritage Acres

Vogelaar Barn
Photos courtesy of Heritage Acres
Old Man River Antique Equipment and Threshing Club President Bob Mitchell and Executive Director Bill Kells appeared as a delegation before the MD of Pincher Creek No. 9 Council on Tuesday, May 14 to update them about Heritage Acres, which the club administers.

Vogelaar Barn project

One of the main topics of their presentation was the planned moving of the historic Vogelaar Barn to the Heritage Acres site. That project is expected to commence in February 2014.

Inside the Vogelaar Barn - amazing trusses
Photos courtesy of Heritage Acres
"We're very close to having enough money to get the board to approve the project," said Mitchell. "We think by the time it moves we will have approached our goal." He said it would cost approximately $75,000 to move the barn, not including setting it up and installing a new roof. "It's a reasonable cost compared to building a similar structure," he said.

Vogelaar Barn as it is now

Vogelaar Barn - artist concept of finished renovation
"One of the major objectives in moving this in is so we can focus more on the cattle and ranching industry. It gives us a great deal more space." Mitchell explained that the building will house dairy equipment that "should lead to the dairy industry supporting the project."

"We've acquired a very large collection of stationary engines from a fella in Crowsnest Pass, over 100 pieces, mostly unique. We're hoping to match them up and put on a better display."

Mitchell said the move was planned for February "because that's when we have the most frost."

Bill Kells said Heritage Acres was making agreements with AltaLink and Fortis regarding the lifting of power lines, so that aspect of the move should cost the organization nothing. He said the Holmes Building Movers might help with the move. They're associated with the famous Holmes renovation-themed TV programs, so that might prove to be very good advertising for Heritage Acres.


Bill Kells said the club held a visioning workshop last year, and their primary vision was to be "THE agricultural museum in southern Alberta." He said their goal was to be a regional agricultural museum. "The folks that have come before us have done a great job of amassing a large collection of cultural artifacts."

Heritage Acres has been declared a Recognized Museum by the Alberta Museums Association and celebrated its 25th anniversary last year. It was completely a volunteer organization up until 2010, when Kells was hired as executive director. At that time it was decided to keep the site open from May to September instead of just for special events as it had been before.

Kells mentioned some of the many improvements to Heritage Acres since he signed on. The Snyder House has been converted into a multi-purpose building, including an office, a library, and visitor information. A new parking lot has been created and directional signage has been much improved. "When folks arrive at site now they get a real sense of arrival."

Kells said marketing, maintenance, and visitor accessibility were also top priorities. A glassed wall will make the model train exhibit more visible to visitors if there's no attendant. Boardwalks are being constructed. Summerview Hall has been upgraded and sealed, part of a process to reverse deterioration of building asset. Wi-fi is now available at the site.

Collections Management has been completely revamped, with new software, improved facilities, a new collection management office and storage area, training and new policies.

According to Kells and Mitchell facility rentals are much increased. Heritage Acres is partnering more with other museums including Wetaskiwin and District Heritage Museum, which was heavily involved in last year's annual show, and Kootenai Brown Pioneer Village in Pincher Creek,

The possible dissolution of Heritage Acres was also discussed with MD council. According to Old Man River Antique Equipment and Threshing Club's current bylaws, should Heritage Acres ever dissolve all artifacts will become the property of the MD. The land would revert back to Alberta Environment for one dollar. "That was set up 20 years ago," said Mitchell. "We're not going to get to that point, that's all hypothetical."

For upcoming events at Heritage Acres click here.

Corrected for accuracy

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