Expansion? When?

  1. 1947 museum first opens
  2. 1957 Huron Village reconstructed
  3. 1967 current building phase one built
  4. 1976 Huronia Gallery of the Arts extension built
  5. 1976-2007 no expansion

There has been a pattern of expansion at the HM over the years. If I have my facts right, there has been no expansion, no new building in 31 years. During that time, the collection has grown year by year. According to the descriptions of the HM, there are over one million artifacts. Members of the community view the HM as the collection of our community’s past. Clearly with poor staff working space, full storage areas, full exhibit areas and only a very small percentage of the collection out on display, expansion seems needed.

The simplest expansion might be to add a rectangular matching space to the gallery end of the museum. No frills, just a large insulated, wired space which could be simply subdivided as needed for display space and storage space. Nothing grand, for the expansion that was the art gallery was not particularly grand. If it looks like warehousing or a big box store (that height may not be necessary) than so be it. Aim for the lowest possible construction cost to gain the largest possible expansion.

To fund raise for this requires a new concentrated effort. It may take years. It may not get completed, the fundraising and the construction before 2017, but if it is to happen the decision must surely be made and the commitment stated for everyone in the community to understand and to become involved.

  1. If I have my facts wrong, please correct me.
  2. If you have an opinion on this subject, please comment.
  3. If you want to get involved in an expansion and fundraising effort, please call the museum.

2 thoughts on “Expansion? When?

  1. Bill
    I think you have the chronology down correctly and you are right when you suggest that more space is our most pressing need,both exhibit and storage space. By incorporating moveable storage we can get two and a half times the number of items properly and adequately stored. But we need the expansion to make that happen. Hopefully our feasiblity study which comes out October 10 th will provide us with options and we can move on to the next phase which is fundraising for the expansion.

  2. from an earlier post, John Raynor made some interesting points:

    “So, what is a museum?
    Our museum as are others is defined by the public by the nature of the exhibits they present. Our largest display is the Huron native village that greets all visitors as they approach the museum and incorporated into its’ name. I would assume that both by name and by visual image the visitor has built up an expectation of what might be found inside.
    Our museum is currently undergoing a study to determine its growth requirements for an anticipated expansion. Is it needed? In what areas? At what cost? These are some of the questions that are being addressed by the board and as always in such exercises lead to perhaps more fundamental question that are harder to answer. Who does the museum serve? For what purpose? With what staff? At who’s cost?.
    One of the most fundamental questions is; Was the museum established as a community archives repository for its material culture that would serve to educate future generations and visitors as to our communities past supported by the community for the community or was it intended as a tourist attraction subject to the competition from other attractions and the ebb and flow of tourist dollars? This then raise other questions; What is our community, how do we define it by time and space? What is meant by Huronia? Is it a geographic tourist boundary or a culture? Is this the Midland museum or do we want to serve a larger population of both geography and cultural interest? What are our responsibilities to the community that supports us?
    If I look at the visitor log, I see that the vast majority of comments are from out of town, in fact out of country visitors. Did they come here as one more stop on their rainy day tour or did they come with a purpose beyond entertainment? Are they really interested in the history of Midland or were they seeking to learn of the Huronia of a more distant past? Should we tell the story of Historic Huronia or should we leave this up to the Wendat, the Jesuits and Ste Marie?
    Are we satisfied with a visual display of our past or do we wish to provided research opportunities for those desiring a more in depth approach to history? Can we serve all these interests?
    I have my own personal opinion as to which direction I would like to see the museum expand both in programming and space and I have shared these with the board, staff and consultants. But the museum board are facing some difficult decisions that will effect the long term health and vitality of this 60 year old community institution. These decisions will impact on more than just space. They will effect staffing and operating costs and ultimately our fait as just another small town community museum or one with a far broader scope that takes advantage of our communities unique placement in the history of time and space and the life of Canada and its people. They need to hear from its membership, the community as a whole and its visitors as to were we go from here.
    So what is the museum to you?”

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