Cumberland’s past is getting a new look for the future.
The Village’s museum and archives is planning renovations to the building, according to new executive director Rossyln Shipp, who updated council at the most recent meeting.
Council members were enthusiastic to hear about the plans.
“I know we’ve all been really curious about what’s going on at the museum,” Coun. Sean Sullivan said.
Specifically, the building improvements include work on the mechanical systems, flooring and painting, as well as improved accessibility. Some hazardous material will be removed in the process.
The biggest additions will be a new HVAC system for heating and cooling the building, as well as new lighting and electrical upgrades to meet code and expected demand in the future.
There are plans to increase the area for collections storage, a reconfiguration of the layout and improved public access for the archive collection. Other changes include separate office spaces, relocation of the community research room and increased storage space for artifacts to meet museum standards, though Shipp said this will likely cut into a small amount of gallery space. As well, the plan calls for an accessible washroom up to code for museum visitors and tourists.
“It’s one of the few publicly accessible washrooms in the Village,” Shipp said.
The Village owns the facility, but it is operated by the Cumberland & District Historical Society. The work comes with an estimated budget of $750,000.
The project was first identified in 2016. Over that time several ideas were considered including the construction of a new building or building an additional floor. After some analysis, it was decided these were not feasible options, as there were questions about whether the current building could handle some of the upgrades. The plan was re-evaluated in March 2019. After Shipp started this spring, there were meetings to determine the direction of the project.
“It was … decided that we would just, at this point, undertake an internal or interior building upgrade,” Shipp said.
The main goals of the project are to make physical improvements to the building’s interior, enhance the environment for operational efficiency and capacity, enrich the exhibitions and access to collections.
“This is a little bit of a shift from that original plan that was maybe provided to you in February of last year,” Shipp said.
For the $750,000 project, the largest cost will be the construction, at roughly $600,000. As well, there is $30,000 set aside for exhibition improvements, $45,000 for collections storage improvements and $75,000 for operational project costs.
The largest source for funding is the Y.P. Heung Foundation, which will cover most of the balance. The Cumberland Museum & Archives will cover $45,000, the Village will cover $41,300 over five years and there is a grant opportunity for as much as $200,000 from Canadian Heritage through its Canadian Cultural Spaces Fund. If the grant is not successful, the foundation will support the full project.
The timeline is for architectural drawings this month, with the building permit application and moving preparation for the collections in September. Actual moving and renovation work would begin in October, with an installation of an exhibition to follow in March 2021 and the reopening set for April, in time to celebrate the Cumberland Museum & Archives’ 40th anniversary. While work is happening, the collections might be stored at the Cultural Centre with shipping containers behind the museum to store office supplies. There had been talk about leaving items inside the building behind barriers.
“Museum collections are fragile things,” Shipp explained. “I actually think it’s best to just do our due diligence and actually move our collections outside that space so there’s not even an opportunity for anything careless to happen.”