Alyssa Gerwing takes the helm as executive director of the Sidney Museum and Archives next month, as the current holder of the post – Peter Garnham – is taking his first steps toward retirement.
“I’m very happy that they [the Sidney Museum and Archives Society] asked me and that they thought of me for the position when Peter was looking to start retiring,” said Gerwing. “I am definitely excited for the challenge. With any new position, there is always room to grow, things to learn and I am excited to do that.”
Starting Sept. 12, Garnham will step into Gerwing’s role as associate director, which she has held for three years. Garnham will hold that job for a limited period of time as Gerwing transitions into her new position. A new associate director will then join the museum.
Garnham is preparing to retire after 25 years with the museum, including more than two decades as its executive director, during which he helped to move the facility to its current location in the Old Post Office building. As part of this move, Garnham helped to create the society currently running the museum after the Town of Sidney had ceased to operate it as an internal department. Garnham came to personify the museum itself as he was its sole employee for many years, running it with the help of volunteers.
This aspect of Garnham’s career also appears in comments from Richard Novek, board chair of the Sidney Museum and Archives Society.
“Peter has done so much more than simply guide the museum through its growth over these past many years,” he said in a release. “He has woven the museum into the very fabric of daily live in Sidney.”
Gerwing agrees that Garnham’s greatest legacy lies in moving the museum into its current location.
“It was just him and a team of very dedicated volunteers for a very long time.”
Garnham struck a modest note: “It has been an exceptional experience creating a home for the museum in the Old Post Office building,” he said, noting the volunteers as well as the society’s board of director and the two municipalities that the museum serves: Sidney and North Saanich.
As for Gerwing, she will become the executive director three years after having joined the museum from Prince George, where she served as assistant archivist at the Exploration Place Museum and Science Centre.
Gerwing said one of her goals is to keep working on the various projects that have been unfolding behind the scenes. They include grant writing. “But as well, we are trying to engage with the community long-term,” she said. This move includes the addition of a third person, who will help with the archives portion of the facility, but also offer educational programming in learning environments for both adults and youth with an eye toward drawing residents back into the museum.
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