Museum campaign hits two-thirds of goal

With renovations expected to start in January, the Fort Frances Museum fundraising committee has reached two-thirds of its fundraising goal of $130,000.
“We’re sort of gearing up for another push here. We still have to approach businesses and some foundations and that,” noted museum curator Pam Hawley.
“We have about $50,000 left to raise.”
Significant pledges already have come in from partners such as the Fort Frances Chamber of Commerce, local Business Improvement Association, and Abitibi-Consolidated.
The fundraising committee’s success so far has been a combination of large contributions from the aforementioned, as well as a mail-out campaign to residents and initiatives like “adopt-an-artifact.”
Under the latter, people can pick an artifact currently in the museum from a photo album, make a $20 donation, get a certificate saying you adopted that artifact, and have your name added into the album for others to see.
Looking to the near future, Hawley noted local artists are encouraged to contribute their artwork to an exhibition and sale coming up Oct. 21 or 22 in support of the Fort Frances Museum’s renovation campaign.
She said an auction gala, with wine and cheese, is in the works for that Friday or Saturday—a change in the original plan to have a fundraiser arts festival weekend at the Townshend Theatre featuring the Fort Frances Little Theatre’s presentation of “TV through the Ages.”
Hawley noted Little Theatre just couldn’t get the production ready in time but will aim to stage it in the new year.
At the same time, the museum renovation committee wanted to keep its fundraising profile up by having some kind of event this fall—hence the auction at the museum.
“We’re still looking to get artists involved and use the building,” Hawley said. “It’s been used for art shows quite a bit in the past.
“And art shows are part of what we’ll be doing in the building in the future, so it’s appropriate to use it for this sort of fundraiser.”
The fundraising committee, spearheaded by former mayor Glenn Witherspoon, has been working since the spring to raise funds to help renovate the museum.
The work will include an entrance to the south of the building, as well as a small addition there 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, as well.
“I perceive that once the project starts, there will be a renewed interest in fundraising,” said Hawley.
The total cost is expected to be around $900,000.
The committee’s current fundraising goal is set at $130,000—$75,000 from the local community and $55,000 from partners such as the Chamber and BIA, which already have come on board.
The town has a dedicated reserve of $420,000 towards the project, with still more funding to come from senior levels of government.
The museum renovations are part of a larger heritage tourism plan devised by the consulting firm of Hilderman, Thomas, Frank and Cram—a $2,725,974 project that has designated the museum as the centrepiece of a tourism strategy designed 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.

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