Out with the new – in with the old

"Canadian Air & Space Museum"

Things are very interesting at the moment at the museum.  Fully half of the Directors resigned last week at a very spirited meeting.  The reasons for their departure should remain confidential but it’s enough to say that they represented the “new” museum. 

Over the last year, the museum has been moving in a direction that did not sit very well with a large proportion of the membership.  I’d hazard a guess that it was the majority.  This new direction involved changing the name from “Toronto Aerospace Museum” to “Canadian Air & Space Museum”.  What’s in a name?  Other than pissing off the Canadian Aviation Museum in Ottawa, it represented a fundamental change in the philosophy in where the organization was going and a wholesale devaluation of all the work that went into getting where we were.

A couple of weeks ago I resigned as Chair of the Wings and Wheels Heritage Festival committee citing my displeasure in the heavy handed control by the museum Executive Group and a general distrust of the ulterior motives behind this control.  Essentially, we were being tasked to design, plan and the show with one hand tied behind our backs.  All the work and very little of the important decision making authority.

To give you an idea of how bad things had gotten, take a look at this picture.

 

Low_rez_Snowbirds_and_Arrow_at_Downsview_-_Sep_8_2009_-__CASM_Photo_by_Kenneth_Swartz

Beautiful isn’t it?  The museum’s CF-105 Arrow replica and the Canadian Forces Snowbirds.  A one in a million picture.  I’d love to say that I took it but I didn’t.  Ken Swartz from the museum Board took it.  I would have loved to have been there to grab my own shots but I wasn’t.  Why not?  Museum staff were forbidden to let any of the volunteers know that the event was taking place. A tangible example of how bad things had gotten over the last few months.  Even those of us who put in hundreds of hours a year (or more) are not considered worthy enough to know when something as important as this happens.  Things had to change!!

So now the museum sits at the crossroads. Most of those who represented the new direction are gone and the “old” timers are left to pick up the pieces.  We’re broke, we don’t really have a good idea of what certain members of the Board were doing and a lot of decisions have to be made in a very short period of time.

I’ve let it be known that I’m still committed to the museum and what it represents.  I’ll work on Wings & Wheels again.  I’ll continue to support with my time and my donations.  I’ll fight to keep the Canadian Air & Space Museum alive.  It’s too important to just let die.  There are too many stories to tell, history to celebrate and pioneers to honour.  It must survive.