Changes are in-store for the Lacombe and District Historical Society who are saying goodbye to their Executive Director and preparing for exciting developments in 2024.
Melissa Blunden will be leaving the organization after acting as Executive Director for the last five and a half years. Blunden will be heading to Cape Breton, Nova Scotia taking on the role of Executive Director for Highland Village Museum in Iona.
Blunden was originally from St. Albert but fell in love with Lacombe’s beauty and charm.
“What truly captivated me about Lacombe was the strong sense of community. My first drive through town was an evening in the summer, which happened to be a Wednesday and I remember seeing the community outside the LMC enjoying the Music in the Park event... A few weeks later I was helping set up a scarecrow festival downtown. I felt like I was moving to a Hallmark movie set. Charming indeed!” said Blunden.
The former Executive Director said choosing just one favourite memory from working in Lacombe was challenging.
“From creating exhibitions and programs to securing Collection Storage, launching the Flatiron Building Museum, developing the Heritage Learning Garden, expanding the annual Hammer-In Festival to be the largest Blacksmithing event in Alberta, and building connections with diverse Indigenous groups – the experiences were so numerous and impactful that singling out one is difficult,” explained Blunden.
She is most proud of her work to revitalize the Lacombe Museums and local culture and bringing the community together through special events and projects. Although Blunden is moving to a new community, she says she will miss Lacombe and the people who have made it feel like home.
“I want to thank the Board of Directors for trusting and empowering me to be creative and push boundaries, enabling the Lacombe Museum to achieve these monumental goals. A big thank you to the volunteers, sponsors, stakeholders, community members, friends, and to my dedicated staff members for joining me on this remarkable journey,” she added.
Heading forward, Samantha Lee will act as Interim Executive Director while the Lacombe and District Historical Society works to find a replacement Executive Director. Lee has been acting as the Community Engagement Coordinator for the last two years.
Exciting developments ahead for 2024
The Lacombe Museums were recently given ‘leader’ accreditation by the Alberta Museums Association, an honor only three museums have in Alberta. Over 300 hours of work went into earning the accreditation which will see new opportunities for the museum.
“We're interested to see what it will do for our sustainability and for securing grants in the future if only three museums in the province have this leader designation,” said Blunden.
Last year, the Michener House Museum closed its doors for some upgrades and a ‘reimagining’. This May, the museum will be reopened just in time to celebrate the 40th anniversary of when it first opened. Additionally, the Blacksmith shop will see its 30-year milestone this year.
The Blacksmith’s Shop is anticipated to have a reimagination project as well but that will likely happen in the years to come.
“It is still in our books to do the same sort of project that we’re doing at the Michener House at the Blacksmith’s Shop but we might have to take a year breather,” she added.
The Michener House Museum and Blacksmith Shop Museum open every year on May Long Weekend. However, the Flatiron Building Museum is open year-round. You can find more information the Historical Society and Lacombe Museums by clicking here.