Museum fundraising closing in on target

FORT FRANCES—With renovations already underway, the Fort Frances Museum’s fundraising committee is nearing its goal of $130,000—with only about $17,000 left to raise.
Museum curator Pam Hawley said Monday that $112,292 has been donated by local individuals and businesses, including $55,000 from partners such as the Fort Frances Chamber of Commerce and BIA.
“I think that with the exhibition development, we can sell that part of it. I think that’s the next step,” said Hawley.
Once the concept for the main exhibit at the newly-renovated museum is developed by intern Emily Carr, and details about that exhibit are revealed to the public later this year, Hawley felt potential donors likely will be more inclined to contribute.
The total cost of these Phase One renovations is around $900,000.
The town has a dedicated reserve of more than $420,000 towards the renovation project, with the balance being contributed by community partners and senior levels of government.
The extensive renovations at the museum include adding 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, too.
The renovations are expected to be completed sometime in January and museum staff then will move back in. But while the museum will be open to the public, some areas will remain under wraps as the new exhibit is developed.
Then there will be a grand opening, with not only the new exhibit unveiled but a recognition monument naming major contributors to the museum fundraising.
Hawley noted 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.
She added Phase Two of the plan 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.
“What’s also going to happen this summer is the planning for that—the planning to move the tower and Hallett,” Hawley noted.
“And to determine what kind of signs and banners and other things are going to be part of the property enhancements—‘wayfinding’ is what they call it—that will get people moving from Customs through downtown and onto the parkway to see all our heritage sites,” she added.
It’s hoped this planning will be executed next year.
In the meantime, the Fort Frances Museum is temporarily located at 334 Scott St. as the renovations are completed.
It is open Monday to Saturday from 11 a.m.-4 p.m. The public is welcome to drop by and pick up a “Discover Fort Frances” package.
Anybody wanting to give to the museum fund also can make a donation there.
(Fort Frances Times)