CMRT Executive Director Damon Colgan is pictured in the Royal Alexandra Hall.

CMRT Executive Director Damon Colgan is pictured in the Royal Alexandra Hall.

New director takes helm of rail museum

The Canadian Museum of Rail Travel will be seeing a few changes in the near future.

The Canadian Museum of Rail Travel will be seeing a few changes in the near future. One of those changes is new executive director Damon Colgan taking the helm, replacing longtime director Garry Anderson.

Colgan has been on at the museum for only a month, but already the museum board is getting behind the changes he has proposed. Colgan worked at the Chase and District Museum and Archives near Kamloops prior to taking on the role in Cranbrook and graduated with a degree in history from Thompson Rivers University, followed by  a degree in museum studies through Athabasca University.

One of the changes moving ahead is making rental of the Royal Alexandra Hall easier and more streamlined. Before, you would only be able to rent if you were an annual renter.

“I’m moving away from that,” Colgan said. “There will be no restriction like that if someone wants to rent the hall. If you want to do a wedding or other type of event in the hall, basically all those restrictions are down. It’s up for rental now.”

Colgan said it was a staffing issue before that they have now sorted out.

The other big one is that the board will be developing the location to become the official place for the Cranbrook Museum.

“We have the Canadian Museum of Rail Travel, but we’re also going to incorporate the Cranbrook Museum and Archives,” Colgan said.

He said the museum already has the archives, but will now be working to put the artifacts on display.

“We actually have a large selection of artifacts that are just in our collection storage, so they’re not on display for people, but what I’d like to do is actually have them out for the public to view,” he said.

The railway museum is only a small part of their mandate, as he said the museum’s mandate is actually the preservation of Cranbrook history and heritage.

“Overall, coming into this institution, I think the former director did a really great job of putting the framework in place,” he said.

“My view at this point is kind of filling out that framework because we have the galleries over there for something like Cranbrook Museum.”

Colgan said he hopes to bring the museum closer to the city in which it resides.

“I see it moving towards more community connection,” he said.