Winnipeg, MB (December 19, 2017): The Manitoba Museum’s Board of Governors gladly bestowed the second Curator Emeritus honour to Dr. Katherine Pettipas in October of this year. After working 27 years as the Curator of Native Ethnology & the Hudson’s Bay Company Museum Collection, Dr. Pettipas retired from the Museum in 2011. Seema Hollenberg, Director of Research, Collections & Exhibitions was pleased to support Dr. Pettipas’ nomination to continue her research and publishing on behalf of the Museum.
Dr. Pettipas joined the Museum as a contract researcher for the Boreal Forest Gallery in 1974 and was subsequently hired for the position of Curator of Native Ethnology. Dr. Pettipas feels strongly that museums fulfill a sacred public trust, serving as long-term stewards of tangible links to the past, present, and future. She appreciates the trust granted the Museum by individuals and communities for the care of artifacts, personal records, natural history specimens, and the unique stories these objects tell.
“I'm truly honoured to be the recipient of the distinction of Curator Emeritus,” says Dr. Pettipas. “I accept this honour on behalf of the many amazing staff, interns, volunteers, donors and community members who travelled along with me on my professional journey, always sharing a vision of ‘possibilities’ despite the many challenges facing heritage institutions.”
Dr. Pettipas describes her work with the Museum as a privilege. Over her years of service with the Museum, she states that she was part of what the University of Manitoba would surely term as “innovative,” “trailblazing” and “visionary.” She believes the many awards received by the Museum during her tenure attest to this fact. In Dr. Pettipas’ opinion, the Museum is much more than a storehouse for historical objects and natural history specimens. During her time at the Museum, Dr. Pettipas embraced opportunities to forge partnerships with individuals, communities, organizations, and government agencies to foster meaningful input into virtually every aspect of the Museum’s core functions and believes these collaborations have also served to enhance community-based empowerment in the areas of cultural heritage preservation, renewal, and education.
“After 27 years of dedicated service, the legacy of Dr. Katherine Pettipas’s work at the Museum is exemplary. She played a leading role in the acquisition and curation of the HBC Museum Collection and in the creation of the HBC Gallery. In addition, she served as a national advisor for museum policies and Indigenous reconciliation. She was a member of the federal Task Force on Museums and First Peoples as well as a member of the Review Board for the Canadian Cultural Property Export Act. Dr. Pettipas curated many Museum galleries and temporary exhibitions, contributed to programs, and established important community partnerships. We are very fortunate that Dr. Pettipas has accepted the Curator Emeritus role and will continue her association with the Manitoba Museum,” said Seema Hollenberg, Director of Research, Collections & Exhibitions.
The Curator Emeritus program was created to honour curators who have made significant contributions to the Museum and have formally retired from full-time museological work. Though they receive no payment for their continued work with the Manitoba Museum, the Curator Emeriti are provided with office space and access to collections areas and labs. They often continue to contribute to the work of the Museum, but this is not a requirement of holding the title and such contribution is voluntary. Preparing publications, giving lectures and conducting seminars related to their work at the Manitoba Museum is encouraged. The Curator Emeritus may be called on for advice regarding acquisitions and areas of research, and they may offer guidance to colleagues, thereby passing on some of the expertise they have developed over a lifetime of study.
Dr. Leigh Syms accepted the first position of Curator Emeritus, bestowed upon him by the Board of Governors in November 2015. As the Past Curator of Archaeology at the Manitoba Museum, Syms contributed greatly to advancing the field of archaeology in Manitoba and his significant museological outputs within and beyond the Museum’s walls are recognized today by experts across North America. His role as a mentor to younger professionals, together with his tireless community outreach efforts continue to this day and are a testament to his boundless professional dedication.