A museum in Switzerland buys an entire house every 10 years – with everything in it. They turf out the occupants and keep the house exactly as it is left. The idea is called contemporary collecting – collecting items today before they become historical oddities tomorrow.
And while the house-buying Swiss may be an extreme example, Prince George’s Exploration Place is also engaged in contemporary collecting – the Christmas kind.
Tracy Calogheros, executive director of Exploration Place, says the museum has been collecting Christmas ornaments for the past eight years – bought or created by residents of Prince George. The ornaments are part of the museum’s permanent collection and are hung on the 16-foot Heritage Christmas Tree.
“The idea is that 50 years from now, all these ornaments will still be part of our permanent collection, with their story and a description,” Calogheros said. “So that 50 years from now the person putting the tree up will have a history of Prince George in their hands.”
Exploration Place is also making it easy for families to do their own contemporary collecting by creating their own ornaments in Santa’s Workshop.
For a small donation, the museum will provide small wooden Christmas ornaments that can be decorated with markers and glitter glue. The ornaments can be taken home or can be named and dated and left with the permanent collection and will be put on display every year at Exploration Place.
Calogheros says the homemade ornaments are important because they give children a Christmas experience more than just letters to Santa and the presents under the tree.
“Here’s an opportunity for the kids to make an ornament to give to grandma, or to their teacher, or to their mom. … We all like to get Barbie under the tree, but what’s on that tree should mean something – not just what’s underneath it.”
Surrounding Santa’s Workshop, the museum has displayed a collection of old children’s toys and Christmas decorations.
Calogheros hopes the ornaments will become a tradition at Exploration Place.
“It’ll be a challenge to find interesting decorations to do every year, but I think we’ll be able to do it, even if all we do is have a different wooden ornament or different coloured ball.”
In past years decorations were made at the members Christmas party, which this year will be expanded for non-members as well.
The party runs December 21, from 10 a.m. to noon for members, and open to the public from noon until 4 p.m.
The Fort George Follies will sing carols and the mascot Bones will make an appearance as Santa.