Feb. 3, 2010
EDITOR'S NOTE: The following is the fifth in a series of eight feature articles prepared for Heritage Week, Feb. 8 - 15. Entitled, Spotlight on our Heritage, this series is a reflection on the people, places and collections of New Brunswick's past. This article was prepared by the Heritage Branch, Department of Wellness, Culture and Sport. For more information about Heritage Week, visit the Heritage Week 2010 website.
Working together: Museum Network in New Brunswick
There are many treasures from times long past among New Brunswick's museums, but one of the most valuable is barely eight years old: the museum network. Inspired by recommendations from the museum community, the network brings together the more than 100 organizations across the province including the longest continuously operating museum in Canada: the New Brunswick Museum in Saint John.
The idea is to collaborate among the various museums and build on existing strengths. The network was divided into nine zones: Restigouche, Madawaska/Victoria, Central Valley, Charlotte County (Fundy Culture), South-East (anglophone), Sud-Est (francophone), Miramichi, Chaleur and Acadian peninsula, and Saint John Fundy. Each zone is headed by a member museum that co-ordinates the group's activities.
The first task that the various zones tackled was develop marketing products. Some developed brochures and placemats for distribution within their region and throughout the province. Another zone came up with the idea of a passport to encourage users to visit several attractions to become eligible to win a prize. Other zones created websites to better publicize their products.
The museum network has become a major tourism asset for each region. Since most of these institutions are only open in the summer, the museums in a particular zone help to increase the length of time that visitors stay in their area, which contributes significantly to tourism. The network and its zones has made new approaches possible relating to marketing, partnership and the incorporation of museums into the cultural tourism circuit.
There is strong evidence the co-operative work undertaken by these zones is paying off. In 2005, the Saint John Fundy zone received a tourism excellence and innovation award from the Department of Tourism and Parks for its Fundy Footprints project.
This success is leading to the development of a second network model: cultural tourist routes that unite the province's museums around common themes. The following inter-zone routes were developed using this approach: railway heritage trails under the theme of transportation; and Irish cultural trails under the theme of culture and religion. These trails feature museums, heritage organizations and tourist attractions grouped together to attract visitors and locals with an interest in the theme. Recently, the Canadian Railroad Historical Association (New Brunswick division) launched a website identifying six tourist itineraries that include the member organizations along the railway lines.
This style of promoting New Brunswick's shared heritage through groupings and themes that join together museums and other cultural organizations, is rooted in the Museum Network of New Brunswick.
MEDIA CONTACTS: Elizabeth Joubert, communications, Department of Wellness, Culture and Sport, 506-457-6445; Guy Tremblay, Heritage Branch, Department of Wellness, Culture and Sport, 506-444-5892.