Galt Museum & Archives
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|Location||502 1st Street South|
Lethbridge, Alberta, Canada
|Accreditation||Alberta Museums Association|
|Public transit access||5 Ave & Scenic Dr S|
Galt Museum & Archives is the primary museum in Lethbridge, Alberta, Canada, and is the largest museum in the province south of Calgary. In 2006, the museum cared for a growing collection of over 20,000 artifacts and 300,000 archival documents and photographs record the history of Lethbridge and southern Alberta. It attracts over 50,000 visitors every year.
A Scientific and Historical Society was formed in Lethbridge in October 1888. Little was done for record archival, and emphasis for the society laid with the presentation of papers at bi-weekly meetings.
In 1944, Walter Gurney opened a private museum—the first museum in the city—in the former Board of Trade building. He collected several oddities and curios. Eventually, his museum closed and many of its artifacts moved to the private Altamont Museum in Coutts, Alberta.
The first civic museum opened in 1964 with George McKillop as curator. It was located in three rooms in the former Bowman Elementary School (now Bowman Arts Centre). The museum quickly outgrew its space and within three years had moved into the considerably renovated former Galt Hospital. The Sir Alexander Galt Museum and Archives was operated until 1971 by The Lethbridge and District Historical Society.
In the early 1980s, the museum was placed in the Urban Parks Program and the museum expanded to include additional gallery space and expanded storage space. The new space allowed for the development of new programs and temporary exhibits.
In September 2004, the museum moved its offices and collections off-site to facilitate a $8.9 million expansion. Government funding for the project included $3.13 million from the City of Lethbridge, $1.9 million from the Government of Canada, and $1.45 million from the Province of Alberta. The museum reopened on 6 May 2006, and was renamed the Galt Museum & Archives. This renovation included: Discovery Hall, a 5,000-square-foot (460 m2) exhibit centre with the permanent exhibit "Exploring Southwestern Alberta" and frequently changing temporary exhibits; a larger store; and the 2,500-square-foot (230 m2) Galt Education Centre.
In 2003, the museum was awarded the Museums Alberta Award of Excellence for Exhibitions for its "Ancestors" exhibit. The exhibit was a result of a partnership with the Royal Ontario Museum and the British Museum in London, England.