2017 a record year for RMR Museum

Article written by LCol (ret’d) Colin Robinson, Chair of the RMR Museum Committe

Westmount, Quebec – 07 January 2018: Well, it’s official… 2017 was one heck of a year for the RMR Museum! Although you might not notice a big difference when you walk into the physical museum space that is located within the armoury walls, the museum’s transformation throughout 2017 has been nothing short of remarkable.

2017 Museum Visitors

Focusing on a new strategy of education outreach, visitors increased dramatically in 2017 , with a total of 8,136 people visiting the RMR Museum collection or exhibitions.

73% of those visitors were from schools, which ties into the museum’s outreach strategy to assist educators by providing resources from both a physical and virtual learning centre that uses aspects of military service to teach the Quebec curriculum across multiple subjects, from K-1 to Grade 11.

A brand new bilingual website was designed and built over the summer to host the Great War Education Program (GWEP), an educational program for high school students about the First World War, which the RMR Museum has developed with educators from the English Montreal School Board (EMSB) over the past year.

With a secure login provided upon registration with the RMR Museum, teachers can access turnkey materials that were created by a Secondary IV history teacher, and includes teacher guides, student guides, accompanying presentations, videos, links to supplementary resources, etc. All this material is available in both French and English. There are additional materials & resources available to supplement the online materials, including replica uniforms & equipment, workshops, guest speakers, artefacts, museum tours, etc.

The aim is for students to have a greater understanding and appreciation for Canada’s role in the various military conflicts and wars of the past 100+ years. And now with these new RMR Museum resources, students are able to research, analyze, create and present their findings to their peers in the form of timelines, posters, soldier profiles, letters, poems, videos and personal reflections in both print and digital formats.

The Museum staff have also developed a series of activities – such as the Poppy Creation Workshop – that can be brought to the classroom or conducted at the RMR’s armoury during a class visit.

Social media presence increased dramatically for the RMR Museum in 2017, as well. With a fledgling Facebook Page that is supported by a well respected Instagram feed that focuses on topical as well as historical themes, it is a way for the Museum to have some fun while capitalising on trending stories, such as the 2017 solar eclipse. The RMR Museum Instagram page added close to 1,000 followers during 2017!

RMR Museum’s Instagram post on 21 August 2017 showing a mannequin sporting a pair of eclipse goggles.

Some other notable achievements of the RMR Museum in 2017 were:

The Regiments on the Ridge: Vimy 100 Years On exhibition (“Vimy 2017”) was held at Westmount’s Victoria Hall over three days in the first week of April 2017. Consisting of a display of WW1 artefacts, diaries, weapons, maps and more from the RMR Museum’s collection, supported by documentary film viewings four times daily, as well as a reenactor dressed in WW1 replica uniform. The exhibition was built around 14 illustrated bilingual fabric panels (8’ wide x 6’ high) outlining Canada’s participation in WW1 in general and the Battle of Vimy Ridge specifically. These fabric panels were specifically designed to be easily transportable to local schools, etc.

There were 1,316 visitors to the Vimy exhibition at Victoria Hall over three days. Visitors included 410 students from seven different schools that ranged from primary to adult education.

More importantly, as a direct result of the exhibition, the illustrated panels are being displayed in six more local schools throughout April, which will bring exposure up by another 3,571, for a total of 4,887 visitors (3,651 students) within the month of April.

Example of illustrated panel, artefacts, and a RMR soldier (Corporal Anastasovski) dressed in period uniform in April 2017 at Victoria Hall

Replica uniforms and equipment were produced, both soldier and nurse versions, and were created to have sizes small enough for students to be able to try on. The replica uniforms and equipment were used by local schools this past November during the Remembrance Week ceremonies, as well as for learning activities & workshops. The Museum currently has four complete soldier sets and two nurse sets, which have been packaged in kits that can be borrowed by educators. Contact education@rmrmuseum.com to reserve them.

We began publishing the daily diary of a First World War eye-witness from the RMR: Private Raymond Duval, MM. Duval enlisted in the summer of 1916 and eventually reached the front and was officially badged into the Regiment in June 1917. He kept a diary throughout his time in the war which he published as a memoir in 1954. Please check the RMR website daily for the next two years to read Private Duval’s diary. He maintained his diary from the day he left Montreal until arriving back in Montreal with the Regiment on Easter Sunday, 20 April 1919.

Archiving – 5,990 images have been scanned and the physical artifacts are now in the process of being photographed. Eventually the RMR Museum’s collection will be digitally catalogued and available for online research. A portion of the RMR’s extensive collection of military weapons and artifacts has already begun to be made available online.

So what’s next for the RMR Museum? In 2018 you can expect to see more travelling exhibitions produced, specifically focusing on the end of the First Word War, and the often overlooked yet crucial role played by Canadian women and nurses during that conflict. The website will continue to expand, and the Great War Education Program will be rolled out to more & more schools across Quebec.  School visits and supporting the community will continue to be the priority.

Volunteers are needed – if you have an interest in military history and would like to contribute to the expansion of the RMR Museum’s reach in 2018 and beyond, we’d love to hear from you. Please contact us by email info@rmrmuseum.com or phone us at 514-496-2003 ext 2328.

 

 

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