Museum welcomes new executive director

new at the museum - Bill Kells recently started his new job as executive director of the Claresholm and District Museum. Photo by Rob Vogt

By Rob Vogt, Local Press Writer

To say Bill Kells loves history and museums is an understatement.

The new executive director for the Claresholm and District Museum brings a wealth of experience to his new job.

In 1992, he began the restoration of three buildings in Mission, British Columbia that included the CPR Station and Mission Memorial Hospital.

“I was also very active as a volunteer,” Kells said, including three years as president of the Mission Historical Society.

He moved to St. Albert in 1995 where he worked in industry.

“I couldn’t be away from museums too long,” he said with a smile.

Consequently, he became the facility manager for two years at the St. Albert Grain Elevator Park.

While he was on vacation in Southern Alberta, he wanted to see Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump by Fort Macleod.

He ended up camping at the Daisy Mae Campground and walking down the town’s main street, where he fell in love with Fort Macleod.

He moved there in 2005, purchasing a heritage house.

“I spent quite a few years restoring that,” he said.

Kells also worked on exhibit development, including some time with the Barracks Square project.

Then, from 2011 to 2013, he was executive director at the Heritage Acres Farm Museum, where he helped transform the facility into a recognized museum under the Alberta Museums Association.

In 2013 and 2014, he was at the Ukrainian Cultural Heritage Village east of Edmonton, but stayed connected to Fort Macleod.

In 2016, he took on a full-time position with the Town of Fort Macleod as a heritage advisor, that became part time in 2017 then wound down.

He is also on the board of directors of the Alberta Historical Resources Foundation, and has a certificate of museum studies.

Kells learned of the position in Claresholm through a professional network he is part of.

“I was excited to see it,” he said, noting he had toured the Claresholm museum with former Executive Director Tricia Carleton. “I saw it all as an exciting opportunity.

“(To) bring some of the experiences I have to help move things along here.”

He started on Feb. 11, and will work 25 hours a week year round.

“I’m impressed with what I see with what has been done here,” Kells said. “A lot of people have done a lot of good work.”

His goals are to continue the work that has been done.

That includes taking care of the collection; crafting exhibits in a changing world that are interactive and engaging; offering school programs and working with schools; building up the volunteer base; and using the museum website and social media to reach a broader audience.

“The resources here to tell the Claresholm story are phenomenal,” Kells said.