Collections for Viewing

At some point you may want to look at the pieces themselves. If you do not know anyone that has a collection, you might start by visiting your local museum. You will find that most museums have a few pieces of Alberta-made pottery if nothing else a crock or mixing bowl. But there are some that have very good collections and it is well worth the trip to visit them. But please, be warned, write or phone beforehand to make an appointment to see what they have. Chances are that only a small part of their collections will be on exhibit if any at all; and, to see what is behind the scenes, in storage, you will have to make an appointment.

You should probably start with the Glenbow Museum as it has the best overall collection—pretty well something from all of the potteries in the area. Their Medalta and Medicine Hat Potteries’ collections are particularly strong, but their Alberta Potteries, Hycroft and Sunburst are not bad for showing the range of products made by each. Their P.I.E. holdings are the best you will find anywhere, but they are nevertheless quite small, only about a dozen pieces. Their Medalta (1966) Limited collections are pathetic, but even at that they are still the largest in any Alberta museum.

If you are in the Edmonton area, contact the Provincial Museum to arrange a visit. Their collections are mainly Medalta, but you will find most of the potteries represented to some extent. One thing that they have, not found in other museums, is the decals used to decorate Medalta’s baby wares. They also have some moulds, biscuit ware and saggars that other museums do not have. And keep in mind that the Provincial Archives has the Medalta records and some photographs worth looking at.

At present, the Friends’ collection when not on exhibit is stored in the Medicine Hat Museum, so you may have to make only one stop to see both collections. The Friends’ collection is, at present, largely comprised of Medalta or Hycroft items, but the whole collection may not be available for viewing as it is still being cataloged. You will not find a better Hycroft collection in any other museum, and the Medalta holdings are not bad either.

The Medicine Hat Museum’s collections are, like Glenbow’s, a good cross-section of all the potteries in the area. Probably, once again, Medalta is the strongest, but the others are well worth the visit. They have quite a number of advertising and other items that you will not find in any other museum collection. Once again, remember that they have archives. They have some pictures taken at “Made in Alberta” trade shows dating to the 1920s or 1930s that show an interesting array of products.

Finally, if you are in the Ottawa area, visit the Canadian Museum of Civilization (C.M.C.) in Hull, Quebec. They acquired the Richard and Jean Symonds’ collection which numbered about 800 pieces. Roughly 400 pieces of this collection were illustrated in the Symonds’ 1974 booklet, so there are many items that you will not have seen before. In addition to Medalta, their strong point, the C.M.C. also has a good selection of pieces made by Medicine Hat Potteries; and, next to Glenbow, it has the best P.I.E. collection even though it only numbers about eight pieces

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