Mark Veneziano has been in Brandon for just over a month and is learning something new about the city’s history every day.
"I didn’t know it was called ‘Wheat City’ before coming here. The way agriculture plays a part in the city is something that interests me," Veneziano said.
Veneziano is the first curator at the Brandon General Museum and Archives Inc., which opened in July 2011. The mission of the museum is to promote and preserve Brandon’s history through studying and displaying artifacts.
Veneziano said his main focus as curator is to create interactive activities and build partnerships in the community.
"I want to bring people to the museum," he said. "Because we’re new we need to get out in the community."
He’s hoping to build a new exhibit every six months and to incorporate school activities. One of his ideas is to bring kids into the old city council chambers and have them act out a session.
"When they agree on a bylaw or a law to pass, we’ll write it out and put it on the bulletin board for people to see when they visit the museum," he said.
He also wants to have craftmaking activities, and hands-on baskets where kids can play with the artifact they are learning about.
"When kids come to a museum and just see things they can’t touch, it’s boring. If they’re playing with something or making something they can bring home, it’s more fun to learn."
Veneziano got his honours degree in history and religion from the University of Ottawa before taking the museum management and curatorship program at Fleming College in Peterborough, Ont.
Before deciding to go into the 30-student program at Fleming, Veneziano wasn’t sure where his studies would take him. One of his professors suggested either he go into research or look into museums.
"I volunteered at the museum in the University of Ottawa," he said. "My favourite museum is the Canadian Museum of Civilization in Gatineau, Que. That’s where I fell in love with museumology — it made me want to know how museums worked."
He moved here by himself last month but will be joined in the new year by his girlfriend, who works as a teacher.
He said because he’s not used to the weather he hasn’t explored as much as he would like — but will be visiting as much of southwestern Manitoba as possible this spring.
"What brought me out here was the opportunity to build a museum, it’s something I really enjoy," he said. "I have a lot of work to do, still, in learning about the history of Brandon and the surrounding area."
The museum, located at 19 Ninth St., is open from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday to Thursday. Admission is free.