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Galt Museum celebrates nerds with astronaut Roberta Bondar and comic book expert Scott McCloud

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Nerds once had the somewhat negative stigma of socially inept bookworms who are addicted to computers, video games, Dungeons and Dragons and Monty Python. It’s not the case anymore.  Nerds are now cool thanks to TV shows like the Big Bang Theory and the resurgence of Dr. Who, not to mention the face that everyone relies on computers today.Chris Roedler reads Scott McCloud’s Zot!. Photo by Richard Amery

“Nerd culture is no longer taboo than it was even five or six years ago. People now think it is cool,” said Chris Roedler, who is helping organize Nerdfest along with Leslie Hall, at Galt Museum, March 21-23.
The Galt Mueum is celebrating all things “nerd,” with a variety of activities happening including a talk with Canadian neuroscientist and astronaut Roberta Bondar,  an all night gaming session and a talk with comic book expert Scott McCloud. Unfortunately a superhero dance at the end of the weekend for which you can dress up as your favourite superhero, has been cancelled due to slow ticket sales.

“ A nerd is anybody with a penchant for one specific thing,” Roedler continued adding in addition to nerds now being cool,  the Galt Museum is also hoping to attract a younger demographic, though the events are open to everybody over the age of 14.

“We’re all nerds. You can be math nerds or music nerds. There are even sports nerds. Basically if you are enthusiastic about something and can’t wait to tell everybody about  it, then you’re a nerd,” said Los Angeles based comic book expert Scott McCloud who wears his nerd badge with pride. He also described himself as a movie nerd and a chess nerd.
“I’m also a nerd for my family,” he said.

 He will be a highlight of Nerdfest  kicking it off with a lecture about comics.

 It will be the lead in to his renown two-day comic book seminar — the only one in Canada‚  which begins March 22 and continues March 23. While the workshop is sold out  with people buyng  tickets from as far way as Vancouver and Toronto, there is still room at his opening lecture.

“It (the workshop) is more about the nuts and bolts of comic books. The lecture is a lot of fun. There’s 100 slides. It’s very fast paced,” he said.
McCloud has a five day seminar at a literature fair in Germany before he comes to Lethbridge.
“I have about a day to catch my breath, then I’m off to Lethbridge,” he said.

 He is best known for his comic Zot!, which he did from 1984-1991. And has since become an expert in the comic book world and a much in demand speaker. But it wasn’t always that way.
“I got into comics when I was 14. I wasn’t into them before. I thought they were just  for little kids. But a friend of mine gave me a big stack of comic books and about a year later I decided I wanted to do that for a living,” he said.


Galt Museum celebrates Canadian scientists

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The Galt Museum is celebrating science with their new exhibit, the Canadian Science and Engineering Hall of Fame, which opens Feb. 2 and runs until May 19.

Galt Museum curator Wendy Aitkens and Roy W Golsteyn work on a puzzle of a map of Lethbridge. Photo by Richard Amery
The travelling exhibit comes to the Galt Museum through the Canadian  Science and Technology Museum in Ottawa.
 It features displays of 34 well known scientists like Alexander Graham Bell and not so well known scientists like Bertram Brockhouse, a 1994 Physics Nobel prize winner who was actually born in Lethbridge.

“I always begin my courses by telling the students a Nobel Laureate winner was born in Lethbridge. We’re looking for the next Nobel Laureate,” said University of Lethbridge associate professor Roy M. Golsteyn who is studying cancer cells at the university.


“This exhibit is a good way to celebrate Canadian science and technology,” he continued.
“Lethbridge actually has the most scientists per capita of any community,” he said adding there are many scientific research institutions in Lethbridge including the Lethbridge Research Centre and of course the university.
 He was surprised by a lot of the names and faces in the exhibit.

“I’m always learning. I learned quite a bit. Canada has 58 Nobel laureates.One was born in Lethbridge and Richard Taylor was born in Medicine Hat. It’s really quite something, ” he said adding Canadian scientists’s work has contributed to much of the technology people take for granted today from defibrillators and stethoscopes to innovations in wheat production and even mapping. A Canadian even helped discover the quark- the elementary particles of all matter.

 So to enhance the experience, The Galt Museum has chosen several items which would not be without  the contributions of Canadian scientists.

Fort Whoop-Up gets a facelift after flood damage

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Fort Whoop-Up is getting a facelift following the July 20, 2012 flood. While it has been shut down since then while staff and volunteers salvaged displays and exhibits, the Fort has recently reopened their gift shop and a few of the rooms for pre-booked Christmas events.David Gabert sits among  Fort Whoop-Up's mannequins waiting to be  put back in the displays. Photo by Richard Amery
“It’s a long process,” sighed Fort Whoop Up executive director Doran Degenstein, after a well attended talk at the Galt Museum about the history of the Fort.

“Originally we wanted to open Oct. 15, then Nov. 15, then Dec. 15, now were looking at the Victoria Day weekend,” Degenstein said.

“ But the store is open and the saloon is open. The bunkhouse will be next,” he continued adding they have been open for special events like the City of Lethbridge’s Bright Lights festival, Nov 23 and pre-booked Christmas parties.

“ We lost about half of our office furnishings and three exhibits in the Crowshoe Gallery, the ranch and transportation exhibits,” he related, adding it was more important to save the artifacts than the furniture. So volunteers and staff were on site within hours of the flood moving what turned out to be approximately 12,000 artifacts in the collection to five off site storage units. They had originally estimated there were only about 4,000 artifacts at Fort Whoop-Up until moving and counting all of them.

“The biggest thing that saved them was we had people there within two to three hours of  the flood,” he said adding they prioritized textiles and papers to be moved first.

They are working on re-opening the exhibits.
“But they will be rebuilt,” he said adding some of them will be replaced with new exhibits. They will be adding a parlour next to the Tavern in the room which used to be the livery stable, which wouldn’t have been located there in the original fort anyway.

Degenstein said the new exhibits will include one focusing on the post-treaty period.
“We used to talk about how the whiskey trade affected the natives but it ended with the signing Treaty 7,” he said adding a lot more happened after the treaty was signed. The new exhibit will explore how the government dealt with natives after the treaty.


A night at the Galt Museum for archaeology trivia

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Spend a Night at the Galt Museum tonight. If you like archaeology themed movies like the Indiana Jones series and Laura Croft Tomb Raider there will beChirs Roedler and some of the prizes incuding the life sized cutout of Kevin McGeough. photo by Richard Amery a special movie trivia night.

The event is aimed at 18-30 year-olds, University or College students looking to blow off some steam in between exams and papers and anybody interested in movies, archaeology or all of the above.

“We’ll be showing a bunch of film clips about archaeology films and asking  trivia questions  about them. Some of them will be easy ike what year the movie come out, others will be more difficult,” summarized event organizer Chris Roedler.

 University of Lethbridge archaeology  professor Kevin McGeough who has been on digs will be hosting the night which features prizes and good times.
The event runs from 7-10 p.m., Dec. 6 at the Galt Museum.

 Roedler hopes to make it a regular event. It is a lead up to the Galt Museum’s “Nerdfest” which runs  March 21-23, which will include a variety of activities including comic book writer Scott Macleod.

Admission is  four dollars which includes entrance to the Galt Museum’s current exhibit, coincidentally featuring southern Alberta archaeology.

There will be tapas for sale and a bar for the event and a variety of prizes including the Indiana Jones movie set, and a life sized cutout of Kevin McGeough, which Roedler said is attracting a lot of his students.
“We’re hoping there will be 100 people there for it,” he said.

“It’s a great way to break into the post-secondary  market. So we’re pumped about it,” he continued.
“What better way to come out and blow off a little steam,” he said.

 Movie trivia runs from 7-10 p.m. tonight. Admission is four dollars.

— By Richard Amery, L.A. Beat Editor

Community helps Galt design Southern Alberta archaeology exhibit

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The Galt looked to the community for direction digging into the past for its new exhibit, “Uncovering Secrets: Archaeology in southern Alberta.”

The museum surveyed the public last year to ask what they wanted to see in an exhibit that focuses on southern Alberta archaeology.
“The Galt Museum is part of the community, so we wanted to do something the community wanted us to do,” said curator Wendy Aitkens.Galt museum curator Wendy Aitkens helps visitors examine ‘artifacts’ form the ’50s. Photo by Richard Amery
“It is important for us to respond to their interests and their needs.”

With help from the Archaeology Society of Southern Alberta and a couple enthusiastic students, they pinpointed 15 local and area sites for a series of display cases that take visitors back as far as 11,000 years ago and as late as the beginning of the 1900s.

Some are well known to local and area residents and visitors, and others more obscure, including Cluny Fortified Village, Fincastle Bison Kill and Processing Site, Fletcher Bison Kill Site, Fort Macleod NWMP Barracks, Fort Whoop-Up, Indian Battle Park, Kajewski Métis Cabins, Lille Coal Mine Town, Massacre Butte, New Oxley Ranche, Old North Trail, Stone Features including the Majorville Medicine Wheel and Noble Point effigy, Wally's Beach, and Writing-on-Stone/Áísínai’pi National Historic Site.

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