Mennonite Heritage Village (MHV) is excited to receive an Award of Excellence from the Association of Manitoba Museums (AMM). The award was given jointly to MHV and the Fort Garry Horse Museum and Archives (FGHMA), in recognition of their “excellence in institutional partnerships” and of MHV’s community programming related to the exhibit. In response to the award, MHV has decided to hold over “Mennonites at War” until April 2, 2022, to enable more people to see it.
The “Mennonites at War” exhibit started to take shape in my imagination about four years ago. When the time came to begin the work, I reached out to Gord Crossley (FGHMA) for assistance on the areas of the exhibit that focus on military history. Although “Mennonites at War” is about much more than the history of Mennonites who participated in the military, the story of Mennonite soldiers is key to the exhibit, and MHV’s partnership with FGHMA was instrumental. The AMM’s recognition of this unique partnership between our museums is very rewarding for both FGHMA and MHV.
The Award of Excellence from the AMM also recognized the innovative community programming MHV introduced for this exhibit. While “Mennonites at War” was completed in May, public health restrictions meant MHV was forced to remain closed to the public until mid-July. In response, we decided on a bold course of action that focused on free, online access to the exhibit. To that end, we created a full, online version of the exhibit that would enable virtual visitors to enjoy a 360-degree, walk-through experience, complete with full access to all the artefacts, videos, photos, and panels: mennoniteheritagevillage.com
We also introduced the “Mennonites at War Speaker Series,” a new initiative that featured the perspectives of historians, filmmakers, archivists, and theologians on Mennonites’ responses to war and violence over the last 500 years.
Through these programs, MHV has engaged a wider online audience. While about 70 people tuned into each live Speakers Series event, the archived videos of each presentation have totaled 91.2 watch hours on MHV’s YouTube channel. Similarly, the videos embedded in our online exhibit have been viewed nearly 800 times! It is exciting to see so much community engagement happening beyond the walls of the physical museum.
MHV endeavours to be a place that explores all aspects of our history, and it is your support that enables award-winning exhibits. “Mennonites at War” features approximately 150 artefacts, each one of which took about 4-5 hours for curators to process at the time of its donation. MHV curatorial worked about 900 hours from January to May 2021, selecting artefacts and photographs and researching and writing all the content for “Mennonites at War.” It took another 125 hours to install the exhibit in the Gerhard Ens Gallery. It then took 50 hours for MHV staff to prepare an online version of it and about 35 more to create free exhibit programming for the community. This work is in addition to the countless hours given the project by dedicated volunteers. All this work cannot happen without your support.
We would like to thank our donors, sponsors, members, and volunteers who enabled all this work and more – to take place during a memorable 2021 season that, amidst the pandemic, brought with it many challenges. As we prepare for 2022, we invite you to partner with us again. Please consider a donation to MHV to help us continue to preserve Mennonite history and create award-winning exhibits like “Mennonites at War.”