Museum fundraising hits halfway mark

While still awaiting word on government funding, local fundraising for renovations at the Fort Frances Museum is coming along quite well.
“We’re probably halfway there,” said museum curator Pam Hawley, noting around $37,000 already has been raised here.
The goal for local donations is $75,000, not including significant pledges which have come in from partners such as the Fort Frances Chamber of Commerce, Business Improvement Association, and Abitibi-Consolidated.
“Our mail-outs have gone really well,” said Hawley. “We still have the businesses to lobby. We’ve gone to individuals and founding members so far, but we’re going to focus on the businesses now.”
Hawley noted feedback to the fundraising campaign from the public has been positive, with many people having made donations of $500 and $1,000.
“And people really like the ‘adopt-an-artifact.’ It’s going well,” she added, referring to a fundraiser whereby 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.
Anyone wishing to make a donation, or adopt an artifact, can drop by the museum. Its summer hours are 10 a.m.-6 p.m., seven days a week.
Hawley added the museum renovation project also should get a boost in October when Fort Frances Little Theatre stages a fundraiser called “TV Through the Ages.”
The organizers’ next meeting was slated for Wednesday at 6:30 p.m. at Gillons’ Insurance (326 Church St.)
Little Theatre member Laurie Walsh had said last week this meeting would be a perfect opportunity for new people to get involved. “We want anybody who wants to get involved in any way to come on out,” he remarked.
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, which ideally will start this fall and be completed by next summer, 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, too.
The total cost is expected to be around $900,000.
The committee’s current fundraising goal is set at $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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