The Smithers Museum Board is expected to initiate fundraising for a new museum building this fall.
That’s the word from museum president Jocelyn Pearce, who gave an update on museum happenings to The Interior News recently.
Last March the board received a feasibility study for the new facility, which suggested a price tag of $7 million.
At some point in the fall things will begin with a casino night, but the museum won’t be after the general public, or town council, too hard.
“We know that there’s no way the town can afford a new museum. We don’t expect them to put money into it,” said Pearce.
She said they also don’t want to tap the community dry, as groups are also vying for money for a new library and a second sheet of ice.
What the museum will actually be after is corporate sponsorships, and not just in Smithers.
The entire plan ties into their goal of becoming a regional museum that serves the Highway 16 corridor.
It’s a plan that makes sense, she said, as Smithers has the only museum between Prince George and Prince Rupert that runs on a full time schedule.
To that end she said they’ve been working cooperatively with the other museums on programs. Notably, she pointed out that only full-time museums can receive funding grants.
“It sort of makes sense that we try to work with some of these other smaller museums,” she said.
The museums would also work to promote each other with their visitors.
In their idea for a new museum, they’d like to see a common public area and a community theatre attached. That way the town would be able to attract more performances to the community that otherwise would jump over the Bulkley Valley.
While there is the Della Herman Theatre, Pearce points out there are some limitations to it only due to the fact that it’s a school theatre.
“It’s a school theatre so you can’t use it when school’s on, you can’t set something up a day or so ahead of time,” she said.
The proposed new museum would also possibly have the visitor information centre attached to it as well.
They’re eyeing up a parcel of land along the highway, newly acquired by the town in the Central Park area. However they’ll have to wait for council to figure out if they want to use that parcel to that end.
The museum board went to a council meeting last summer with their idea but council said they wanted to hold off on any commitment before they’ve established a plan for Central Park.
Pearce has no problem with that, but she is itching to find out what will happen.
“I agree it’s a good idea, it’s just that, how long is this going to take?”
A larger museum space would go a long way in the way they can display artifacts and exhibits.
She pointed out that they were recently given an old wooden glider, from a member from a once large glider club in town. They took the piece happily but don’t have a means to display it.
“We said yes, we’ll take it, but until we get more space I don’t know where we’re going to display it.”