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Tuesday February 28th, 2012  
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Story
Vyk Harnett photo
 
The Crowsnest Historical Society announced earlier this month its decision to close the Crowsnest Museum until further notice, due to an unstable financial situation.
The society’s board of directors made the decision at its meeting on February 15th, after several key grant applications were not approved this year, shrinking the museum’s bank account to a critical minimum.
“We just ran out of money,” said Crowsnest Historical Society Board President John Salus, adding that staff salaries and the cost of operation are the biggest expenses.
The society was approved for an $18,000 grant from the Municipality of Crowsnest Pass in January, which will be paid on a pro-rated monthly basis for the cost of staffing.
However, Salus said it was simply not enough.
“That amount just doesn’t cover two employees for a full year,” he said.
“Salaries are our biggest expense and since we didn’t get important grant funding, we were forced to lay our staff off.”
He said support from local businesses and the Municipality has been strong but what is really needed is corporate sponsorship and access to federal and provincial grants.
“The Municipality has really supported us but with our small community, aging infrastructure and decreasing population, it would be very difficult for them to give us the money we need,” said Salus.
“Also, we have very limited large corporations here – the funding simply isn’t there.”
He noted that cost cutting at the provincial and federal levels has greatly affected available grant opportunities.
 

Salus said restructuring of the museum will now need to take place, including the possibility of going back to operating the museum on a volunteer basis with reduced hours.
Until such a time that changes can be made and the museum can be reopened, artifacts will continue to be stored at the museum, where heating, electricity, security and insurance will remain in place to ensure safekeeping of artifacts.
“We have enough money left to still secure the building for whatever length of time it will be until we can apply for the next round of grants and casino money,” said Salus.
He said important decisions will need to be made at the society’s upcoming
Annual General Meeting on March 11th at 2 p.m. at the
Polish Hall in Coleman, where the society will discuss financials and projections of available funding moving forward.
The society also requires new members and volunteers for the board of directors - having received no applications as of yet – and will be taking nominations from the floor.
“The museum belongs to the membership of the Crowsnest Historical Society and it’s the membership who need to decide how they want to proceed,” said Salus.
“The future of the museum will be up to the membership and the number of volunteers that we get.”
For more information, visit crowsnestmuseum.ca, or call 403-563-5434.
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