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Design concept unveiled as museum celebrates 50th anniversary
As the Osoyoos Museum and Archives celebrated its 50th anniversary Saturday, the architect and design consultant unveiled the concept for its new location.
The renovated Main Street building, currently occupied by the Home Hardware Building Centre, will feature an inviting facade with large windows and an indented doorway.
Inside, it will offer plenty of space for continually changing exhibits in addition to the permanent collection.
“This building has its shortcomings,” said Mat Hassen, president of the museum society, as the temperature rose in the old Quonset building where the museum is currently housed. “It leaks. It has pets, including flying kinds,” he said, adding that without climate control, it’s like storing fragile artifacts in a garage.
Dignitaries cut two cakes, one emblazoned in icing with the museum’s original logo while the other had the current logo.
Performing the ceremony were federal MP Alex Atamanenko, provincial MLA Linda Larson, Osoyoos Mayor Stu Wells, and Martha Collins, a museum director who is leading the fundraising effort for the new building.
David Jensen, the design consultant, said the concept for the new building comes from consultations in the community.
Residents of Osoyoos said they wanted a museum where they could see exhibits that change regularly so that when they come back they’ll see something different, he said.
“They wanted stories that were relevant to them and that they could share with the visitors to Osoyoos,” said Jensen. “They want a very active place, a very dynamic place. A place for dialogue. They didn’t want the same old kinds of museums that once you’ve gone, you don’t go back.”
Architect Anthony Boni said the windows will be greatly expanded at the new location to be twice as wide and also higher than at present.
“One of the things we wanted to do was try and create a transparency so that when you come down Main Street, you actually see that it’s a museum,” said Boni. “So we’ve made the front very large with windows so that you come by and you see what’s happening inside.”
When visitors enter, they will cross simulated water created with moving lights.
This represents the symbolism of Osoyoos’ origins as a place to cross the lake. It also represents a crossing from the present day to the past, Jensen explained.
Visitors will be met by a number of panels on sliders representing the present and past. The panels can be moved out of the way to open up the entrance space when there are events.
Around the edge of the gallery will be exhibits featuring artifacts from an old dentist’s office, old printing equipment, agricultural equipment and pioneer life, but these will be put into context showing why they were important to the community.
Artifacts will be tied to stories to draw connections, Jensen explained.
The main floor will have a mix of permanent exhibits as well as features that change.
The basement will have a multi-purpose space as well as cases featuring more of the collection and an area for storing parts of the collection that aren’t on display, he added.
Boni said because there will be limited staff, many of the services will be concentrated at the front so there aren’t too many different places that staff have to be.
At the reception area, there will be a gift shop as well as a connection with the offices and a rebuilt mezzanine that will have office space.
The current pseudo-Sonoran look of the building will be changed, but the exterior design will adhere to the town’s new design guidelines, but with a contemporary look, Boni said. This means it will leave out some of the elements such as fake timber beams, but there will be elements to create shade.
The actual construction, once it starts, should take about eight months, Boni said, although some of the ideas for the building will only be determined by the amount of funds that can be raised.
The design team is looking at including a number of environmentally-sustainable features including possibly incorporating solar and geothermal energy and using heat recovery.
Jensen said the presentation will try to break down barriers between art, history and science.
“We’re trying to tell the complete story of Osoyoos over time and show the relationships and connection and not have the set pieces that separate the natural history from the First Nations history,” said Jensen.
Hassen reminded those at the celebration that the new museum will go ahead as a result of a referendum in June 2011 which was based on a commitment to limit funding from property taxes.
The building was transferred to the Regional District of Okanagan Similkameen (RDOS) on Jan. 1, 2012, and the Home Building Centre is allowed to lease the building for up to five years.
A committee headed by Collins will be raising funds, and the museum will also look for federal and provincial funding, Hassen said.
BY RICHARD McGUIRE