THEMUSEUM in Kitchener plans for innovative future

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In September, Kitchener’s THEMUSEUM celebrated its 18th anniversary, honouring almost two decades of positive contributions to the community. 

THEMUSEUM opened as the Waterloo Region Children’s Museum in September 2003, before rebranding to THEMUSEUM in 2010 and offering programming for all ages. 

The rebrand came under the guidance of David Marskell, who has been the CEO since 2006. In an interview with Imprint, Marskell explained that THEMUSEUM overestimated the interest from families in the area, and adapted their offerings to better suit the interests of the region. 

Now, THEMUSEUM provides exhibitions and activities for children and families, adults and the “55 & Better” community. 

According to Marskell, the rebrand did not reduce the children’s programming, but rather it added programming targeted toward students and adults as well, focusing on evening and weekend showings for older audiences. Marskell also noted that the children’s programming seeks to emphasize “things that are relevant and current, such as a Halloween parade where kids get dressed up.” 

“We’re also more strategic about making children’s programming around STEAM and STEM,” he said. “It is more the DNA of this community that we [are] celebrating.” 

In general, THEMUSEUM aims to provide unique, timely programming to the community and beyond. When deciding on a new exhibition, THEMUSEUM team always has a key question in mind. “We ask, ‘will people care about this topic? Can we make this topic of interest?’” Marskell said. 

One part of achieving this goal comes through relationships with universities and colleges in the region such as the University of Waterloo. 

THEMUSEUM often hosts exhibitions that involve the work of students, faculty and alumni from local schools. “We’ve worked with Conestoga College, Wilfrid Laurier, and we’ve worked with UW many, many times,” Marskell said. “Probably the biggest one, we worked with IQC – the Institute for Quantum Computing – and with them, we created Quantum, an exhibition that opened here for a few months, toured Canada, and then ultimately started to go around the world. That was a pretty cool collaboration that again celebrates the DNA of our community,” he added. 

Throughout the pandemic, THEMUSEUM has continued to find creative ways to engage the community. “We created a dinosaur drive-thru, which was hugely successful and popular,” Marskell said. 

In the future, THEMUSEUM hopes to continue developing innovative exhibitions that immerse audiences in the material.  

Marskell explained that THEMUSEUM would like to increase their available space by taking over the neighbouring building, which would allow them to host more exhibitions. “In the future, we’re looking to expand and build beside us, and it’s imperative to us that we work with the universities and the community going forward,” Marskell said. 

As THEMUSEUM grows, they hope to strengthen their connection to schools in the region to expand their offerings going forward. 

Current & upcoming exhibitions

In addition to their permanent exhibits, which include an Animation Station and a giant Walking Piano among others, THEMUSEUM is hosting Akshata Naik’s “Traveller, many hidden moons ago” until May 2022. An outdoor exhibition, “Traveller, many hidden moons ago” explores the curious spaces into which the artist often intrudes during daydreams. Toronto-based artist Naik was inspired by thoughts of travelling to a new planet during a global pandemic. Audiences can see the exhibition at the corner of King and Queen streets in downtown Kitchener. 

As for their upcoming exhibitions, THEMUSEUM is scheduled to host two major showings:
“REVERBERATIONS | Our Rock and Soul Legacy” and “The Rolling Stones | UNZIPPED.”

“REVERBERATIONS” presents iconic moments in rock history that occurred in the Kitchener-Waterloo Region. According to THEMUSEUM’s website, the exhibition “​​maps out the backstage stories, artifacts, and superstar encounters that happened all around you.” It opens in October 2021. 

“UNZIPPED” is an immersive multimedia exhibition that takes fans behind-the-scenes of The Rolling Stones. The first international exhibition devoted to The Rolling Stones, the show will make its Canadian debut in November 2021. Audiences will be able to view more than 300 objects from the band members’ personal collections, including rare audio and video fragments, personal diaries, iconic costumes, a replica of their recording studio and more. 

Speaking on the upcoming “UNZIPPED” exhibition, Marskell noted the broad appeal of The Rolling Stones. “The Rolling Stones have been out there for 60 years. They’re of a different generation, but there’s something very unique about The Rolling Stones,” he began. “They are incredible that they appeal to such a wide demographic. I would encourage the students to check out The Rolling Stones. They’re still on tour! And they’re not going to be here forever, but they’re worth checking out, and their music is infectious.”  

UW alumni can receive 10 per cent off the standard ticket price for the UNZIPPED exhibit when using the promo code UOFWRS at checkout.