There are big changes underway at the Princeton Museum.
Last week the museum board announced the appointment of a new part-time manager, while president Rika Ruebsaat resigned her position as the organization’s leader.
Ruebsaat has led the group since 2014.
“I think a turn over of presidents is a good idea,” she said in an interview with The Spotlight.
“My presence is not in anyway indispensable because we have such a strong board and I have other projects I want to focus on.”
The past three years have seen significant transition and challenges for the historical society and its leadership, said Ruebsaat.
“I think one of the good things that has come of that is our relationship with the town has improved and blossomed. If I were to point at something that happened under my stewardship that is something I feel very pleased about.”
In 2016 the Princeton Museum made provincial headlines when the board came to loggerheads with municipal government about museum operations, following failed attempts to establish a memorandum of understanding.
“I think what I would say is that the town and the museum were viewing the museum situation from non harmonious paradigms and that we were talking past each other,” she said.
“I think what happened was that people kind of simmered down and tried to make it work, on both sides.”
Ruebsaat said there were lasting benefits from the public exercise of negotiating with the municipality.
“It suddenly raised the profile of the museum and made people realize how much they cared about it…we had 70 people at the 2016 AGM and 40 people at the 2017 and that is pretty amazing.”
Ruebsaat is one of the founders and organizers of the Princeton Traditional Music Festival. A noted historian and author with her husband Jon Bartlett, she is currently researching her third book.
She said that with the hiring of a new manager she feels comfortable stepping away from the day-to-day responsibilities of running the museum.
“The museum needs somebody who really loves it, really cares about it and really knows it,” she said.
Terry Malanchuk, a long time museum volunteer who has also written two books on local history, takes over the position next week.
“I’m excited,” he said. “There’s been so much I’ve been wanting to do.”
Malanchuk said one of his immediate focuses will be to elevate the profile of the museum’s rock collection.
“The Pollard collection of rocks and minerals and fossils is one of the best in the world, it’s world renowned. We need to develop that so the whole community can see that and take pride.”
There are 500 specimens from that collection on display now, said Malanchuk, although there are at least 50,000 more squirrelled away in the museum basement.
Malanchuk also has plans to work with the Princeton Legion to develop a meaningful display for Remembrance Day beginning in 2018 and to create new displays in the livery stable next summer.
He said he intends to raise the profile of the area’s history.
“The Princeton area has tremendous history in every department, not just in mining but logging and agriculture, First Nations, and not all of that has been properly documented…The thing about history is it’s a treasure hunt and you never know what surprises you are going to find.”