Last month, we told you a bit about the Red Deer Museum + Art Gallery and how their services are an important part of Red Deer and Central Alberta's history (if you missed that post, read it here before proceeding). Besides organizing a multitude of programs and events, the nonprofit has been able to showcase the talents of many artists and creatives. In order to help the Museum + Art Gallery gain a better insight into their members, the Kinsmen donated the funds required to purchase SUMAC, a new program that helps nonprofits with their duties.

Now that the Museum + Art Gallery has been able to use the new software, we thought we'd follow up with them to see how SUMAC is making their job easier and ask them about their current exhibits.


Tell us a bit about yourself and your role at the Museum & Art Gallery.

My name is Karli Kendall and I’m a Marketing and Fund Development Associate with the Red Deer Museum + Art Gallery. I just started the role this year, but I’ve been with the Museum for over 6 years. My role involves a lot of work regarding marketing and promotions, as well as working with donors and our membership. I also help run our Reel Movie Mondays film series. 

Tell us about SUMAC and some of the ways you plan on using the software

First of all, I want to say thanks to the Kinsmen for helping us pay for the software. The new program is called SUMAC and it’s a contact management system specifically for nonprofits. We just started working with it live because we had to spend some time transferring the data from our old system. SUMAC allows us to have a better understanding of how our members are utilizing the museum; it also allows us to keep in better contact with them and send them any information much more effectively than direct mail. The software has multiple modules, such as events,ticketing, and registration; right now, we’re working on enhancing our membership.   


How is it different from your old program?

It’s a lot more intuitive to use. Searching for records is easier because it brings up similarly spelled names and helps reduce duplication. The common problem with databases is that misspellings lead to unnecessary duplications. Our old system didn’t allow us to see what people were using their membership for, but with SUMAC, we can find out if people are buying a movie ticket, registering for a course, attending an event, or all of the above.


Can you tell us some of the exhibits you've got coming up? What's the best way to find out about them?

Our website and our Facebook page are the most popular ways people hear about the Museum and Art Gallery, but I do get a lot of messages from Facebook and Twitter throughout the day.

Our history exhibit is called “Remarkable Red Deer: Stories From the Heart of the Parkland”. It features some components that are changeable in order to show people artifacts in the collection that don’t normally make their way out. We’ve had everything from a 1913 Christmas store display to a post World War II war bride clothing, so there’s always something new to see.We’ve also got a fantastic exhibit from a local artist named Jim Westergard. It’s called “Crocky Rocky Prairie Fairy” and it features his prints and drawings. He is quite an amazing illustrator and many of his pieces involve woodblock printmaking. He’s been in practice for over 35 years and taught at Red Deer College, but this is his first major exhibit. Jim’s illustrations are also featured on books available online; you can tell by the title of his exhibit that he’s got a great imagination when it comes to his work.

Finally, our WWI exhibit, “Red Deer and the Great War: 1915: The King Will Take Off His Hat to the Canadians”, is now on display. That exhibit is on display until February 7th, 2016 and showcases the hardships and horrors of the 1st World War and how it affected Red Deer. It showcases the roles that men from Central Alberta played in major battles that moved Canadian soldiers to the war’s forefront and features pieces from Red Deerians. This year also marks the the 100th anniversary of the famous poem “In Flanders Fields.”

What are some of the ways people can get involved with the Museum & Art Gallery?

Apart from attending the exhibits and events, we have many opportunities for volunteering. In fact, we recently had a Day of the Dead event that brought in 169 people and included history and information sessions as well as an altar. It was put on thanks to the Franco family.For programming, we have day camps and summer camps and our MAGSparks program which connects people with developmental disabilities with the Red Deer arts community.

At the moment, we have volunteer opportunities involving our small artifact collection. It’s a perfect role for people who would like to go behind the scenes and help us catalogue artifacts and place them in storage.  We’ve had quite a few 10 and 11 year olds help out with our MAGnificent Saturdays program and Family Day event because kids love helping each other. It’s gotten to the point where we’ve had youth call us and follow up with us to see how they can help out.


What's one thing that many people don't know about the Museum & Art Gallery?

A lot of people aren’t aware that we exist. We’ve had people visit us who have spent their entire lives in Red Deer, so we’re always looking at ways we can bring people into the Museum and Art Gallery. We’re a hidden gem.

Is there anything else you'd like to add?

Later on, we’re looking for submissions for our Community Wall exhibit. If Red Deerians have an important story to tell, we would love to feature it in this wall in “Remarkable Red Deer”. We’re working on the details, but we’re expecting to start asking for submissions sometime at the beginning of 2016.

Feel free to contact us online, by phone, or in person. Our galleries are admission by donation and we never want to have any barriers for people to visit and explore what we have to offer.  


For more information about what the Red Deer Museum + Art Gallery have to offer, head to their website. Also, make sure you're following the Red Deer Kinsmen on Facebook and Twitter and visit our Dream Home Lottery page to buy a ticket and support the community!