Manager of culture and museum services Reg Wilford is aiming to make Delta’s new museum an interactive, open space for the community. (Gary Cullen photo)

Manager of culture and museum services Reg Wilford is aiming to make Delta’s new museum an interactive, open space for the community. (Gary Cullen photo)

New Delta museum to be focused on engagement

The new facility would be more of a “cultural centre” and “studio space” than most traditional museums.

Delta’s new museum is looking to turn the traditional institutional model on its head, while still embracing its deep Deltan roots.

That was the message Delta’s culture and museum services manager Reg Wilford put forward during his presentation at the Delta Museum and Archives Society’s AGM on Tuesday, May 16.

“This is history and heritage we’re talking about, but people have thoughts and connections to it,” he said. “We want to cultivate that connection.”

Over the winter, museum staff solicited feedback from a number of different stakeholders, including the DMAS (which managed the museum up until July 2016); the Delta school district; municipal council; the parks, recreation and culture commission; and the public through two open houses in North and South Delta.

Overall, Wilford said, engagement and flexibility were two of the most important themes that showed up in the feedback.

The flexibility of the space itself as well as the museum’s services were important to stakeholders. Wilford noted that museum staff were looking to create a space where there can be more than just exhibitions, and that the museum would be more of a “cultural centre” and “studio space.”

The museum services could also extend beyond the new museum itself, moving online or into other municipally-owned spaces around the community.

Perhaps more importantly, people wanted to see engagement in Delta’s three communities, as well as engagement across different cultural and age groups.

“Taking that authority and allowing people to speak their own truth … that’s what will make a relevant facility, that’s what will connect with people,” Wilford said.

To achieve that, Wilford said the museum will need to focus more on technology. He brought up examples from other museums of how this technology could be implemented, including using facial recognition software to match visitors to historic figures, green screens to immerse people in historic scenes and key cards to allow people to navigate their way around the museum.

“It’s about magic,” Wilford said. “We’re very cautious that we’re not putting touch screens in just for the sake of having a touch screen … We want it to really create an impact and create an immersive environment that kids remember.”

Currently, the museum is set to open in March 2018, although Wilford called that an ambitious start date. He said it would be easier for the museum to have a soft opening in June 2018, and officially open its doors around Canada Day 2018.