Funding drive underway to restore museum

“Help us preserve the past by becoming involved in our future.”
In the spirit of “Museum Month” and “International Museum Day,” which fell this past Monday, this is the message the Fort Frances Museum’s fundraising committee is promoting on a daily basis at it moves full-speed ahead to raise $75,000 to help renovate the local museum.
“We’ve got people interested, people are finding out about it,” museum curator Pam Hawley noted Monday.
She added the fundraising campaign is receiving cheques on a daily basis, and talks are underway with local service clubs, the Fort Frances Chamber of Commerce, and Business Improvement Association to get them involved.
Hawley said the project is about preserving the town’s history and, as such, should hold interest for every person and group in Fort Frances.
The fundraising committee has been meeting over the past couple of months, with former Fort Frances mayor Glenn Witherspoon as the honourary chair.
“$75,000 for a goal is not a large amount,” Witherspoon said Monday. “I’m sure the people of Fort Frances will come forward. They always do when it comes to community projects like this.”
The total cost of renovating the museum is expected to be around $900,000. Its current fundraising goal is set at $75,000 from the local community and $55,000 from other partners (such as the Chamber of Commerce and BIA).
The town has a dedicated reserve of $420,000 towards the project.
Other levels of government funding are being sought to complete the scenario while applications have been made for grants from FedNor, the Northern Ontario Heritage Fund, and Cultural Spaces Canada (the Department of Canadian Heritage).
One fundraising idea the committee has come up with is “adopting an artifact” for a fee of $20.
A variety of albums featuring items from the museum’s collection have been put together, and can been seen during such public events as the BIA’s “Show and Shine” this Saturday on Scott Street.
Pick a favourite—perhaps something that is particular to you or your workplace—and you will get a certificate and your name added into the album, Hawley noted.
A “community tree” monument also will be put outside the museum to recognize donors of $500, $1,000, $2,500, $5,000, $10,000, and $25,000.
As well, the fundraising committee will accept annual pledges or payroll deduction payment plans as alternative means for people to give their money over a period of time.
The need to renovate the museum stemmed from a study completed last year by consultants Hilderman, Thomas, Frank and Cram.
The study showed that, among other things, the Fort Frances Museum has been a vital part of the community since 1978—meeting the standards of a community museum while operating in a facility constructed in 1898, said Hawley.
But the inadequacies of this facility are now at a crisis point, she warned, noting:
•the building is too small for the storage of the collection, the proper display of exhibits, and the various activities that take place at the museum;
•exhibit displays and cases are old and out-dated;
•environmental problems exist, causing difficulties with the building and display cases, as well as creating health and safety issues;
•the building has accessibility problems; and
•there is no clear route to the museum from the border/Canada Customs building.
Work on the museum, which would start this fall and be completed by next summer, would include an entrance to the south of the building, as well as a small addition to the south of the building to alleviate receiving, crating, and shipping problems.
There also will be changes to the existing building to alleviate circulation and exhibition space problems.
New heating, ventilation, air conditioning, safety, security, and electrical systems will be installed, too.
The museum renovations are part of a larger heritage tourism plan devised by Hilderman, Thomas, Frank and Cram—a $2,725,974 project that has designated the museum as the centrepiece of tourism strategy meant to draw visitors to the downtown area and riverfront.
The plan also includes parkway and gateway linkage with signage and interpretive panels, “streetscaping” and upgrading of the museum property and the Scott Street/Victoria Avenue routes to the La Verendrye Parkway, and waterway development, including fort interpretation and relocating The Hallett and Lookout Tower to the riverfront.
The newly-renovated museum and gateway then would be marketed via a joint tourism marketing strategy with regional museums and historical centres, such as the Kay-Nah-Chi-Wah-Nung Historical Centre (Manitou Mounds) and International Falls Museum.
(Fort Frances Times)