Museum board ‘back on track’ with 2020 vision towards moving into new home

By on March 21, 2017
Plans were unveiled Saturday showing the proposed concept for the new museum, which will be located at the current Home Hardware Building Centre. The front will be opened up with large windows to create an inviting and visible façade.

The Osoyoos and District Museum Society had been planning to move into the present Osoyoos Home Building Centre last fall, but in 2015 town council extended the building centre’s lease to the end of 2019.

They were crushed when their dream was delayed, but the board of directors with the Osoyoos and District Museum Society is “back on track” with planning to move into their new and modern home in 2020.

The society was supposed to take possession of the current Osoyoos Home Hardware building on Main Street (besides the Osoyoos Times) last fall, however, those plans were changed when Town of Osoyoos council voted in April of 2015 to extend its lease until the end of December 2019 to save a successful business and close to 20 full-time jobs.

When that extended lease expires on Dec. 31, 2019, the museum will take over ownership of the building and the plan remains to convert the building into a spectacular new museum by the summer of 2020, said board president Mat Hassen during his annual update to town council on Monday.

“That was then, this is now and we’re back on track,” said Hassen. “We have a vision, community support and a hard-working local group to make our vision a reality. Our community said it wants a place we can be proud of, a place that showcases Osoyoos authentically, both past and present.”

The new museum will be a place that showcases a clear sense of place, natural setting and climate that focuses on this region’s fertile valley, warm lake, First Nations heritage and Canada’s only desert, he said.

The centrally-located new museum will be housed in a solid building that can be converted into a museum and archives which will serve this community’s needs for decades to come and will feature an exciting, innovative and flexible exhibit plan that will tell core stories that are deeply rooted in the history of Osoyoos, he said.

“When you walk into the new museum, you will have a sense of walking into Osoyoos,” he said. “It will be of value to both visitors and residents alike.”

With just under three years to go, the board is getting excited about taking possession and having all plans in place to convert a home building centre into a modern and functional museum, he said.

“What we need, in a word, is support,” he said. “Our sights are set on Jan. 1, 2020, the day we take possession of the new location on Main Street.

“Shortly thereafter, the sounds of hammers and saws will quickly fill the space as we turn the exciting plans of the architects, engineers, exhibit designers, curators, conservators and you into something tangible and exciting when the doors open to the public in the spring of 2020.”

To make this happen, the board needs financial support from individuals, corporations, foundations and provincial and federal funding programs in the form of outright or matching grants, he said.

The community has already provided the facility at a cost of $1.26 million and another $2.5 million is needed for Phase One building conversion and exhibit design, he said.

Hassen reassured council that taxpayers won’t have to provide any funding once the new museum opens in  the spring or early summer of 2020.

More than $500,000 has already been put aside into a fund managed by the Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen (RDOS) and the board expects senior levels of government to provide significant funding 18 to 24 months before the new museum opens, he said.

The architectural plan for the building is clean, simple and cost effective and has been designed to be welcoming, accessible and safe, he said.

This includes improved entrances and exits on both levels, upgrades to the existing building to meet building code requirements, improve stairways to the mezzanine and lower level and quality security system.

Exhibits will be modern, functional and educational, said Hassen.

“Entering the new museum, visitors will be welcomed and transported through time and space to the past, the present and see tantalizing hints of the future,” he said. “Everywhere they look, visitors will encounter the faces, voices, stories and events which have helped shape our community.

“The colours and images will reflect the features and textures of our location at a longstanding crossroads in the South Okanagan with its lush agricultural lands, desert landscapes and shimmering lake – all in a sun bowl formed by the surrounding mountain walls.”

Different themes, a combination of permanent and temporary exhibits will offer information, graphic images, illustrations, interactive hands-on activities and relevant artifacts that showcase this community’s proud history, he said.

The future looks very bright for the museum after being housed far too long in its current location in an old and dilapidated curling rink, said Hassen.

“2020 is just the beginning,” he said. “The new museum opening in 2020 will represent completion of Phase One. There is much more to come in Phase Two.”

Phase Two includes adding fully-accessible washrooms on the lower level, a small kitchen,  updating mechanical systems, adding compact storage  for archival material, closed circuit monitoring of the entire building and an urban park and outdoor performance area outside the building.

“We believe that 2020 will be the beginning of a new chapter in the life of our museum,” he said. “We have assembled an experienced team, brimming with exciting ideas to fulfill the community’s dreams for this new kind of museum,” he said. “Our community is behind us, we’ve secured a new home, plans have been drafted and concepts designed. All we need now is you (local residents and business owners) to help make our new museum a reality.”

Osoyoos Museum executive director told council that 2016 saw a large increase in visitors with the highest attendance figures in more than a decade.

Mayor Sue McKortoff thanked Hassen for his presentation and clear vision for the new museum moving forward.


Osoyoos Times

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