The Brome County Historical Society (BCHS) is rebranding, giving its museum a new trade name, and a new logo. The BCHS will still keep its name as the legal entity, but the new trade name, Musée Lacbrome Museum, will be used on signage and for commercial purposes. Following months of discussion among board members, the BCHS agreed that it was important to identify itself as a museum and to make it clear to visitors who are coming to the area. The group hopes the changes will attract more visitors to the cultural institution, but the decision has also caused some division within the community.
“While the Society has adopted a new trade name to be used in signage and commercial purposes, we are still the same organization,” said Rachel Lambie, curator for the museum. “We have the same mandate and the same goal. We are still collecting the history of the former Brome County and none of that has changed, or will change.”
The new Musée Lac-brome Museum name is designed for tourism purposes. “Legally, we are still BCHS, so if we get donations they need to be made to the Society. In terms of moving towards being a local museum of national importance, it’s important to identify ourselves as a museum and not a historical society so that visitors coming from close or far know that they are coming to visit a museum.”
Lambie emphasized a lot of thought and work went into into the trade name, and it wasn’t made on a whim. “Lac-brome was chosen to reflect not only the fact that the museum is situated here, it would help the museum be found more easily.”
Brome County can’t be found on a map. “It was really trying to make sure people could locate us. We are not trying to cut out parts of our history or ignore parts of Brome County that are not a part of Lac-brome,” added Lambie.
As a part of its rebranding, BCHS also updated its logo. “We added new colors, a red that is more eyecatching. Our logo is still the front of the courthouse, it’s just changed stylistically. It really encapsulates a lot of the things that the museum does and not just the exhibits,” said Lambie. “There is the uneven and imperfect circle with the handdrawn courthouse in the centre. The outside circle represents the open and dynamic side of the museum and the archives because it looks like a waxsealed stamp. The hand-drawn image connects to the children’s museum and the family-oriented goals of the museum.”
The rebranding was about moving the museum’s vision forward, Lambie said. “Essentially, it tries to embody our vision for the future. We are not trying to sway from the past at all. We are trying to move our past forward so that we can continue to celebrate the history of Brome County while still being up to date and visible. We didn’t change the hair color, we just got bangs.”
While ensuring the community that it will continue to live up to its mandate moving forward with its rebranding process, some people in the local community have a different perspective.
Joanne Croghan, who was involved in the museum for 15 years as an employee, volunteer, and board member, shared her concerns about the new name change. “I have been around long enough to say that a lot of improvements were made in the last ten years, freshening things up, redoing some the old buildings, making things more modern and more appealing, and it was working. The museum is doing better than in previous years, but it is still the Brome County Museum. Brome is a part of what is important because Brome County is so much more than Lacbrome.”
Croghan emphasized that the name of a museum is of deep significance and that the rebranding of the museum affects its integrity and the people who built it. “I did research on museums in Quebec and in Ontario. They are not art galleries, they are different. The name of a museum reflects the space, the time period they are representing, or named after the person who built it and Lac-brome just doesn’t work. It just doesn’t.”
She added that if the goal in the rebranding wasn’t to exclude the history of the other areas that were a part of the former Brome County, but are not part of the present Brome Lake, the name could have been something as simple as Musée Brome Museum. She added that the new name also lacks the English translation of Brome Lake. “With the word Brome alone, you encompass everything, you encompass everyone, including Brome Village. We still have a Brome Village, but it’s not a part of Brome Lake. You put Lac in front of it and you put it into a box and I think the members see right through that.”
At the end of the day, Croghan said, it’s about staying true to its identity and that the new name is just going to cause more confusion. “We are not focusing on French Canadian history or the history of an actual lake. People are going to think it is about a lake. We need to be who we are and honest with people about our history. We are proud of it.”