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Charlotte Prong Parkhill file photo

Charlotte Prong Parkhill file photo

TheMuseum CEO David Marskell comes nose-to-nose with an avatar during one of the many exhibits that were featured at TheMuseum this year.

One Love at TheMuseum

By Charlotte Prong Parkhill
Kitchener Post staff

If David Marskell had his way, Bob Marley’s One Love philosophy could help create harmony and promote all of the region’s cultural institutions.

Marskell, CEO of downtown Kitchener’s TheMuseum, is announcing what will be the newest show, opening in March: a Bob Marley exhibit on loan from the Grammy Museum in Los Angeles for its Canadian premiere.

And Marskell hopes to create a region-wide festival umbrella around the exhibit,  showcasing the region’s musicians and arts venues.

“I’m really hopeful that we can pull something together around his music . . . I’m quietly starting that,” he said.

When Marskell took over the reigns at TheMuseum, he did nothing quietly.

He broadened the mandate from solely a children’s museum, and brought in big, bold shows such as Andy Warhol’s Factory and Titanic. But the economic downturn had a significant and longlasting effect on TheMuseum and its donors, he said.

The year started out with RAM: Rethinking Art and Machine, followed up by the hockey exhibit Arena, Adding Colour by Yoko Ono, and now Avatar, which closes next week, and The Treasures of China, which runs until March.

In 2013, he plans to scale back the number of exhibits but go full throttle on the festival strategy, with lots of related events.

“That’s what we’re getting back to for this year — one or two great exhibits, and get the community involved,” Marskell said.

“We need to stabilize TheMuseum. Through all of the shows we’ve done, not everyone has supported us. I thought more of the technology community would come out for RAM.”

He says he hopes local cultural institutions can come together to share resources such as marketing or education tools, and begin to brand the region as a cultural centre the way Hamilton has done.

“I’m fearful for the cultural landscape here. It’s not sustainable. The funding isn’t based on merit and it isn’t equally shared,” he said. “We have to figure that out, and in this economic time, it’s taken a couple of years for the cultural groups to really feel it, but it’s going to be tough.”

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