When You Are Among Friends

A local charity celebrates 40 years of support for the Royal Alberta Museum

The Royal Alberta Museum is the largest museum in western Canada. Today, it has more than five million objects that focus on the history and stories of Alberta.

For the past 40 years, Friends of Royal Alberta Museum Society (FRAMS), a registered charity and not-for-profit membership organization, has supported the museum.

In celebrating FRAMS’ 40th anniversary this summer, the organization recognizes endeavours that include offering memberships to special events and museum tours to supporting artifact acquisition, including the painting Blood Tears by Alex Janvier. That work is found in the residential school exhibit in the Human History Hall.

One of the programs FRAMS offers in conjunction with the museum is the Indigenous Student Museum Internship program. Launched in 1998, the program offers a 16-week paid internship to First Nations, Métis and Inuit post-secondary students who want experience working at a museum.

Chauntelle Atcheynum (ISMI 2017 and 2018) works with children in the Children’s Gallery

“We are one of two museums across Canada that have implemented this type of program. They (interns) are able to work in any part of the museum. They could work with the marketing department, the museum shop, the learning team or with a curator doing research,” says Drew Delbaere, vice president of FRAMS.

Increasing access to the museum for all Albertans has been a priority for the organization. As Delbaere explains, the admission fee “can be a natural barrier for some people to come and learn at the museum.” To reduce those financial barriers, FRAMS’ Go! Program works with agencies such as the Boys and Girls Clubs, Edmonton Mennonite Centre for Newcomers and some post-secondary institutions to provide museum passes, free of charge, to individuals and families experiencing financial hardship.

Skye Haggarty (ISMI 2019 & 2020) creates a pattern from a coat

FRAMS consists of one staff member and a volunteer board of directors. It has seen changes to its funding over the last number of years. To create more financial stability, an endowment fund has been established with Edmonton Community Foundation.

“As many organizations have experienced, our funding sources have changed and come and gone over the years,” explains Delbaere. “We used to have other funding sources that dried up and I think that we are hoping that the endowment will provide financial stability and give us the confidence going forward to be around for another 40 years.”

The fund was created in January 2022, but is something the organization has been hoping to set up for a while. Rav Rupnarain, president of FRAMS, says, “There is now a fund that our members and our donors can contribute to, to make sure that, from an operational standpoint, we are existing well into the future.”

As things safely reopen, the organization hopes to host events to promote the new DRIVE exhibit at the museum and to collaborate with other organizations in the city such as LitFest.

During the pandemic, FRAMS published its first book, Alberta Quiltmakers and their Quilts by Lucie Heins. FRAMS is open to publishing more books in the future. “There are very brilliant individuals who work at the museum who may be interested in writing a book about their topic of expertise and FRAMS now has the expertise to help out from a publishing standpoint,” says Rupnarain.

This story comes from the Summer 2022 edition of Legacy in Action. Read the full magazine.