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Osoyoos Museum looks forward to moving from past into the future in its new home
Step inside the Osoyoos and District Archives and Museum and you take a step back in time to the days when the Osoyoos Times was printed on an old press, without the use of computers, and clothes were washed by hand, on an old rippled washboard.
And, should there be rain falling in Osoyoos during your visit, you may also take a step – into a puddle of water.
“If you look up, you can see the sky through the museum roof,” stated Martha Collins, Vice-President of the Museum’s Board of Directors. “We’re not protecting our artifacts properly. The temperature change from the hottest days in the summer to the coldest days in the winter is not good. So, we can’t protect these very beautiful artifacts that people have donated to the museum.”
It’s for that reason, and a host of others, that the Osoyoos and District Archives and Museum is moving to another location.
While it’s been known for some time that the Museum will be relocating to Main Street, the museum’s board of directors invited guests and the media to an unveiling of sorts this past Saturday.
While board President Mat Hassen was giving his opening address and providing invited guests and the media with some background on the Museum, and it’s soon-to-be new home, white paper covered what turned out to be a large, 10-foot high fundraising thermometer.
“Thank you for coming today to help us with our ongoing transition from our past, to our present and to our future,” began Hassen. “Today is an important turning point in our journey.”
During the speeches from Hassan, Martha Collins and museum director Kara Burton, those in attendance were left wondering how much needed to be raised and how much has already been brought in.
Finally, the white covering was pulled away by Collins and Burton and Osoyoos and area residents were given the pertinent information.
A total of $1.5 million has been raised so far – representing about half of the fundraising goal.
Collins is adamant that an archives and museum plays a significant role in any community, especially in one with such a rich history like Osoyoos.
“It’s a community museum and we want to protect the community’s history. We understand that culturally, our future is dependent upon how we remember our past – the people that settled our town, the people that built our town, the people that cherish our town,” explained Collins. “The new museum is about the people of the town. It’s a community museum. We want to hear your stories. We want to hear what your grandma did, or your aunt or uncle, in the town. If there are any stories you want to share with us, come see us, because that’s the most valuable part of everything we have, is what people are doing.
“The early settlers who came here built the museum, and we want to ensure that that’s protected for our great, great grandkids.”
In 2009, the board established the New Museum Planning Committee, which developed a report for town council.
The bottom line from that report is that the cost of constructing a new museum would be close to $5 million and the board would need to find a suitable property.
In late 2010, the board was advised that the only existing property deemed suitable might be available on the market, given that Home Building Centre had found a place to build a new, larger facility up by the airport.
Negotiations took place and the town and board from the Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen (RDOS) agreed to hold a referendum for the purchase of the property.
In June 2011, property owners in the town and Area A of the RDOS approved the purchase for $1.26 million.
A design and proposal was delivered in late 2012.
Although the proposed plan was very attractive and exciting, the projected $4.5 million pricetag was well beyond what the OMS believed it could raise, so it was back to the drawing board.
Work began on scaling back the project and by mid-2014, the board asked the architect to come up with a design development plan for Phase One which would focus on public access to the main floor of the building.
The new plan was adopted this past January. It calls for $1.8 million to do the necessary renovations, improvements and changes required to convert the existing building into the new museum.
A significant portion of that cost is directly related to converting the building from private to public purpose and meeting current provincial building code requirements.
“We take possession in October, 2016,” explained Burton. “The plan is to renovate over that winter, bring the building up to code, do all the work we need to do in the building, install the new, wonderful exhibits, and open for the summer of 2017.”
Burton is excited about cataloguing everything at the current museum in preparation for the move.
“We are currently going through every box, every corner, everything, and as we are going through, we are recording all the items we have, and we’re packing them properly so the boxes will be ready to move,” she said.
Hassen reiterated it’s important for people to understand that the museum directors do not plan on going to taxpayers to fund the rest of the project.
“Our original commitment was if the community would provide the building and property, the OMS would raise the funds needed to turn it into the community’s new museum,” he said. “We remain steadfast to that commitment.”
For further information, check out www.osoyoosmuseum.ca.
Special to the Times