Museum explores impacts of plastic

By Natali Trivuncic
Staff Writer

An exhibit started by Fort Frances Museum’s former curator Sherry George, aims to educate the public on the perils of plastics. In order to better address the global climate crisis resulting from polluting our landfills and oceans, one main thing the exhibit aims for is education.

The Perils of Plastics exhibit was originally set to be presented last spring was but forced to cancel due to the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“It was entirely set up in the museum and we had all the prizes set up and we were excited to have people come in and see it but then COVID happened, and it was on the walls for several months with no one to get to experience it,” museum attendant Sarah Marusyk, said.

The museum made an informal commitment to keeping the topic of climate change front and centre several years ago when it had become apparent that our planet is reaching a point of no-return, Marusyk said.

Marusyk took over the project after George retired last spring and had since been figuring out a way to present the information to the public in a socially distanced manner.

Marusyk chose to create an informational video which was posted to the museum’s Facebook page on Earth Day.

“It was the last thing that she curated and put together,” Marusyk said. “She did the bulk of the research and I just got to do the fun part and try to put it together and bring it up to date and add some linkages to COVID-19 and mask pollution.”

Marusyk said she was unsure how this rendition of the in-person exhibit would compare but adds that the information is shocking and scary enough to capture viewers’ attention.

Some of the information Marusyk discusses in the video includes that synthetic plastics have only been around for 150 years and that they exploded on the market in various forms that were seen in household products and toys.

The video also explains the benefits of plastic, particularly in medicine, and plastic alternatives.

Although the exhibit was virtual, there was still an opportunity for those watching to win some eco-friendly prizes.

Blase and Jasper Dennis showing off their Earth-friendly patches they won in the Fort Frances Museum giveaway. The contest was part of the Perils of Plastic exhibit. To see the virtual exhibit, visit the Fort Frances Museum and Cultural Centre on Facebook. – Sarah Marusyk photo

The museum is well known for the workshops they typically host through the winter months. Marusyk said it would be nice to incorporate more eco-friendly based workshops.

“People are curious about that and there’s not a big expense associated with something like beeswax wraps,” Marusyk said. “The museum is committed to offering programming about climate change and perhaps throughout the summer months that’s something we can strive to do.”

Marusyk said she has already seen plenty of engagement from the video which shows that people are interested in educating themselves.

“Just hitting that like button or sharing it is nice to see because it’s hard to know whether or not people are engaged with their museum or their community when we’re not getting to see them all the time or have them come to events that we would normally be having.”

Aside from the Perils of Plastics exhibit, the museum already has a permanent exhibit that includes a section committed to the environment and climate change, Marusyk said, adding that she hopes when the museum is open more people can explore that section.

Marusyk said she hopes to continue having exhibits like these to answer questions and start more conversations surrounding the topic of climate change.