The executive director of the Sidney Museum and Archives is bidding farewell to the community as she prepares for a return to her hometown.
“My time with the Sidney Museum and Archives has been overwhelmingly positive, and I feel privileged for having been a part of this team,” Alyssa Gerwing stated in a release. “The experience I have gained is invaluable. I am sad to say goodbye to the community I have found here in Sidney and North Saanich, where the support shown to the (museum) has always been steadfast and exceedingly generous.”
Gerwing is returning to Prince George and her new position at the Exploration Place Museum and Science Centre, where she will join its curatorial department. The national award-winning facility is scheduled to reopen in June after a multi-year closure and massive renovation.
Gerwing, who leaves her current position effective May 14, joined the Sidney museum in 2017 and replaced longtime executive director Peter Garnham in September 2020.
She has led the museum through the COVID-19 pandemic, during which time it won numerous grants and undertook a major renovation and digitization project and upgrades to its collections management. The team also grew from one full-time and one part-time staff to three full-time staff members.
The museum also welcomed a number of professional travelling exhibits from institutions ranging from the Nikkei National Museum and Cultural Centre to the Canadian Museum of History.
“I am extremely proud of our accomplishments, including the digitization of the Peninsula News Review, and all the milestones we passed to professionalise our (museum) practice,” Gerwing said.
Her pending departure comes after Adrian Bogdan, assistant director and archivist, and Sydney Fuhrman, education and outreach coordinator left for government positions.
They credit the experience gained during their time in Sidney as key to taking next career steps.
Bogdan said he will miss the people. “I got to meet and work with so many people from all over the Saanich Peninsula and Gulf Islands, it will be tough to say goodbye to them,” he said.
Fuhrmann, with the museum on and off since 2018 in various roles, struck a similar note. “It’s been a fantastic experience and I couldn’t have asked for a better group of people to work with. But it’s time for me to move on to the next challenge.”
The museum has already replaced Fuhrmann and the applications for the assistant director and archivist position closed May 1. The search for a new executive director will start in May.
Coun. Scott Garnett, Sidney’s council liaison, said the departures, while challenging in terms of timing, reflect well on the quality of museum and personally thanked Gerwing for her work.
“Her leadership and grant writing ability were critical for the success of the museum during the pandemic,” he said. I truly believe she was the right person for the right time in this role … I wish her great success in her future career endeavor.”
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