2016 in Review

   As is usually the case at Mennonite Heritage Village (MHV), 2016 was a good year in some respects and a difficult year in others.

Exhibits

   The Gerhard Ens gallery exhibits were highlights for us. Our curatorial staff created a wonderful exhibit in recognition of the 100th anniversary of women being given the right to vote in Manitoba. Beyond Tradition: The Lives of Mennonite Women discussed and illustrated four areas in which Mennonite women have sometimes stepped into less-traditional roles and excelled in them: Uprooted – Women bringing their families out of the former Soviet Union, particularly during the Great Trek; Working 9 to 5 – Women working in professions such as midwifery and nursing; Church Work – Women serving as missionaries, Sunday School teachers, etc.; Unhitched – Single women taking on roles uniquely suited to them because they didn’t have traditional familial responsibilities.

   For part of the summer season we replaced this exhibit with Ray Dirks’s Along the Road to Freedom, 26 paintings and stories of women who had to take on heroic roles to get their families out of the Soviet Union under dire conditions.

Artifacts

   Our collection of Mennonite artifacts, now well over 16,000, continues to grow. We received and accessioned items that tell an important Mennonite story, that we don’t already have, and that we have room to store properly. This year we refreshed our Collections Policy, our Collections Conservation Policy, and our Collections Disaster Management Procedure. We have also installed new climate control equipment in the galleries, lab and artifact storage room.

Visitors

   Due to weather and a few other situations beyond our control, MHV’s festival attendance was considerably lower than it’s been in the last few years. This has had a significant impact on our general revenues. However, participation in our Education Program was similar to last year. We are very grateful for all the volunteers who supported us during our various events and programs despite an unusual number of alternate volunteer opportunities in our community around the same time.

   Our daily attendance, rental revenues, and gift-shop sales have all increased somewhat over last year’s levels. Restaurant meal sales were down from last year, due largely to the lower attendance at our festival days. Support for our sponsorship program and for our Foundations for a Strong Future campaign has also been very good. We are deeply grateful for the financial support we receive from our constituency.

Foundations for a Strong Future Campaign

   The encouraging progress of our Foundations campaign has allowed us to move forward with our facility restorations and new construction. Early in the year we installed new furnaces and air-conditioning units in the Village Centre. During the summer we repaired and painted the exterior of the Old Colony Church. The Windmill received fresh paint on all the white surfaces, as well as new louvres in the sails. The Waldheim House is currently having its log structure refurbished, and the construction of the new Summer Pavilion is well underway, with a planned completion date of mid-April.

   We celebrate all the successes of 2016 and remind ourselves where they have come from, and as we consider the things that didn’t go quite according to plan, we look for ways to make improvements for next year at MHV.

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About the Author

Barry is the Executive Director of the Mennonite Heritage Village. While he does not consider himself to be a historian, he places a high value on the preservation and interpretation of the Mennonite and pioneer stories that help people of all ages understand and appreciate their heritage. Learn more about the MHV.

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