Museum muses about future
For many, the Golden City’s undeniable appeal stems not only from the soft white stuff atop the local mountains, but also the hard minerals that once lay below. Today’s Rossland is a place measurably enriched by history, with an appealing heritage core and existing economic profile that can both be credited largely to a remarkable gold rush past.
Mining may no longer be the lifeblood of this city, but it remains awfully important to those intent on preserving our history, and sharing our stories with tourists and locals alike. Having spent a tough summer 2010 season without its popular mine tour – and with no resolution yet in place for 2011 – the Rossland Museum society is now brainstorming new ways to increase revenue and better involve the community in celebrating its past – and present. “It’s the Rosslanders . . . their history should be part of their future,” said board president Libby Martin, keen to excite locals about the museum’s above-ground offerings, and expand the role it plays in the community. The site has potential. In the summer of 2009, the museum partnered with the arts council to host a family-friendly outdoor concert on the grounds, something Martin would like to see more of. The outdoor gazebo is now wired for electricity and sound, and could also host outdoor movies, she mused.
But to put on events takes energy, and the museum could use additional volunteers with the time and skill to help pull it off. The museum is also open to new partnerships with other local groups. Onsite skits using the acting talent of the Gold Fever Follies worked well in the past, the museum has a shared interest in promoting the history of ski culture with the Spirit of Red society, and is even thinking of installing a heritage garden, which may appeal to the ever-active REAL Food folks. “I think we need to reach out more,” said Martin. “We recognize that change is needed, that we have to become more proactive. Now it’s just a question of finding the capacity to do it.” Finding that capacity has never been more important. Though museum representatives are consistently close-mouthed about the future of the mine tour, Martin acknowledged that its loss last summer was financially painful, and that grants to support operating costs are hard – if not impossible – to attain. She remains hopeful that ongoing discussions between the city and Teck will one day result in the re-opening the underground attraction. Mine tour saga in brief: Teck owns the museum/mine site, which it leases to the city. The city then sub-leases the mine to the museum society, the Rossland Historical Museum and Archives Association, which ran a popular underground tour there until three exchange students got locked in accidentally for most of the night on October 28/29, 2009 after a Halloween-themed event, prompting the closure amidst safety, accountability and liability concerns. More in the Rossland Telegraph archives .
“We can’t plan for anything,” said Martin. “We recognize that if we continue to be without the mine tour, we need to look in other directions . . . we need to make the museum more attractive to locals and visitors alike.” Got an idea? A partnership proposal? Call Libby Martin at 362-9472.