Heritage Centre off to a great start

  • Nov. 5, 2007 7:00 p.m.

By Charlotte Tarver–Even though the busy tourism season is over, the Skidegate’s Haida Heritage Centre remains a beehive of activity. More than 5,000 people have visited the centre since it opened in July. People continue to come see the exhibits, but many come to attend or participate in the numerous events held at the centre. Musical performances, cultural and art events, conferences, workshops, public presentations, seminars and meetings have been held and more are planned. “It was a crazy summer.with the ‘soft opening’ approach, we wanted to get a sense this year on how to interact with the people, what we want to share about our culture.” said Jason Alsop, Operating Manager. “The biggest thing was to gain staff experience.” Fall has been full of projects for the centre’s small staff of five, managing these events, finishing exhibit installations with the Haida Gwaii Museum and solving maintenance and equipment problems of the centre. Mr. Alsop says centre staff is working on “planning for next year and working with the museum staff on labelling exhibits, putting together a catalogue and entering data.” By the May long weekend, they hope to have the Tanu pole (formerly in the old museum) mounted in the Temporary Exhibit, and other projects done. “The glass map (to go in the Greeting House) will be completed, shipped and installed.the copper by Guujaaw (already mounted in the Greeting House) will have its design completed and be named.,” said Mr. Alsop. Recently, new lights were added in the Performing House to provide better lighting during performances and other changes are planned. “We’re going to replace some of the seating and have a smoother finish on the wood,” he said. “An audio engineer will outfit the Performing House with the proper audio equipment and sound system.” Although Parks Canada’s multi-media exhibit and most of the natural history exhibits are finished, they are in storage waiting for installation. “The Parks exhibit is basically fabricated.it’s here on site and waiting to be installed.graphics just need to be printed.” Installation was delayed until the 32-year old original museum building has extensive renovations. The renovations are expected to cost over $500,000. “We are trying to get funding in place to renovate the original museum space.there is an application in to Northern Trust,” he said. By May, the centre hopes to have the restaurant open. “.We’re tying up loose ends in the restaurant to get it up and running and fully operational,” said Mr. Alsop.There have been problems with the geo-thermal heating and cooling system that are being resolved now. “There was a point when it wasn’t working properly but we have a mechanical engineer looking at it now.no conclusions yet, but we’re waiting for his report to see what adjustments and changes are needed,” he said. “We made some small adjustments.shut down the cooling, only the heating is on right now. Too much dust had clogged the filters, the humidity was too high, now they are cleaned out.”Mr. Alsop is working with a number of community organizations to find out how the centre space can be used. “There are so many non-profit groups, people with their own passions…I’m getting a handle on all the different organizations to find out how we can get them in the centre,” he said. “We don’t want to close doors because of price.” “It was a promotional season.a time to try things out in operating the centre,” said Mr. Alsop. “Now, we want to get processes on paper so that next year we’ll kind of have an idea on how we can work things better.”