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Residents crowd NOTL museum for annual treasure sale

·4 min read

The Niagara-on-the-Lake Museum’s annual Treasure Sale and Pig Roast fundraiser was a smashing success on Aug. 2, raising more than $4,600.

People were lined up around the block before the event started to support their local museum and witness the unveiling of its long-awaited addition, the Tiny Museum.

“It certainly feels good to be supporting the museum again,” NOTL resident Joe Baxter said as she rifled through the copious treasures on display.

“I keep picking stuff up and I don’t know what to get,” she said.

Assistant curator and educational programmer Shawna Butts said it was the busiest treasure sale the museum has ever had.

Museum managing director Sarah Kaufman was shocked at the turnout.

“I am overwhelmed by the support the community is giving us today. I just wanted to officially say thank you so much to everyone for coming out,” she said.

“We’ve had tough times through COVID-19 and it’s really heartwarming to see the community come out and support us in this way.”

The isolation of the pandemic drew people out who have not visited the museum for a while.

“I hadn’t been here in so long. I live in Niagara-on-the-Lake but I haven’t been to the museum in years,” Sylvia Angelkotter said.

“When I heard this was happening I said, ‘Let's go.' ”

Not only was the sale good for individuals to get out of the house and support the museum, it was a benefit for a community long shuttered by pandemic restrictions, NOTL resident Chris Girard said.

Girard got her hands on a beautiful necklace that was part of the jewelry display. The allure of the treasure sale was too much for her to resist.

“This is my first time here and I’ve lived in Niagara-on-the-Lake for 12 years,” she said.

“Shame on you,” volunteer Judy Thornton teased.

Showing up to purchase treasures wasn’t the only way the museum received community support.

Almost all the items on display had been donated by NOTL residents, with a few pieces of the museum's own collection out as well.

Kaufman emphasized the generosity of the donations.

“People might say, ‘Oh it’s a garage sale.’ It’s not a garage sale, it’s a treasure sale. People donated some really nice stuff,” she said.

Items included historical books, crystal glassware, silver cutlery and cups, jewelry, paintings and a myriad of knickknacks and decorative pieces.

The event also featured the long-awaited unveiling of the Tiny Museum.

“It’s our first time that we’ve actually been able to use it,” Kaufman said.

It was completed in May 2020 but the pandemic prevented the museum from putting it to use until the treasure sale, she said.

The trailer-mounted Tiny Museum is a replica of the museum and features a rotating exhibit that the museum changes to cater to the areas and events that it is taken to.

The museum hopes to bring it out to schools, villages andq events such as Canada Day and the many fruit festivals that (usually) take place across the municipality.

If they were doing an event in St. Davids, for example, the inside would become an exhibit of the village’s history, Kaufman said.

The Tiny Museum’s latest exhibit is called “People of Niagara” and includes an array of displays featuring Indigenous people in Niagara, loyalist history and the Syrian refugees who called NOTL home in the 2010s.

“It’s amazing. Whoever built it is a master,” Sylvia Captein said after examining the Tiny Museum exhibit.

“It feels much more spacious than it looks and they can just change the theme to whatever. It’s amazing.”

Exhibit designer Amanada Balyk said she drew inspiration for the exhibits in the Tiny Museum from her work as a teacher.

“I really asked myself what I would want my students to know and what would I want out of a museum. Then I consulted some teachers and planned accordingly,” she said.

That careful planning and attention to education was not missed by visitors.

“It’s an educational device that is so, so fun,” Dee Travette said.

The museum is working on a tiny exhibit featuring the history of the Canada Games, which are scheduled for the Niagara region next year, with sailing and tennis events in NOTL.

“We’re working with Brock University and Canada Games to develop something,” Balyk said.

Evan Saunders, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Lake Report

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