An expansion has been proposed for the Summerland Museum, adding floor space to the building in front and a covered loading dock in the back. The museum was opened in 1984, but since that time, the number of items in its collection has grown significantly. (Contributed)

An expansion has been proposed for the Summerland Museum, adding floor space to the building in front and a covered loading dock in the back. The museum was opened in 1984, but since that time, the number of items in its collection has grown significantly. (Contributed)

Summerland Museum seeks to expand

Number of acquisitions has grown significantly since present building was constructed

The Summerland Museum is looking to expand to keep up with its growing collection.

At the Jan. 9 meeting of Summerland’s council schematics from Cal Meiklejohn of Meiklejohn Architectural Design were for the museum renovations.

Curator Petra Holler told council the museum building on Wharton Street was opened in 1984. Since that time, Summerland’s population has nearly doubled and the museum’s collection has grown significantly.

When the museum opened its doors, there were 4,784 catalogued items. By 2022, there were 25,185 catalogued items, an increase of 425 per cent.

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The museum now has the equivalent of two full-time paid staff members, with a full-time curator, a part-time administrator and a part-time visitor services attendant.

Space is limited in the building, and staff members and volunteers have limited room in which to work.

Holler said there is no dedicated space for incoming artifacts and a lack of workspace for exhibit preparation. Storage areas overlap with staff work areas.

The space limitations also affect the number of people who can attend as well as the types of exhibits the museum can display.

“Summerland has a very rich history, and it’s a lot more than just fruit,” Holler said. “We would love to have the opportunity to explore more compelling social issues in our displays.”

The permanent exhibits at the museum take up more than 50 per cent of the floor area, but the museum guidelines recommend no more than 40 per cent of the floor area for exhibits. Additional area is also needed to expand and enhance the existing gallery and to display the Tait Artworks Collection.

Holler said archives should be stored in a secure, climate-controlled space for their preservation. However, while some items are stored in the museum building, others are in the basement of the RCMP building and some are being stored in a container at the municipality’s public works yard.

She added that certain items cannot be loaned to the museum because the building does not have the required climate control and a covered loading area.

The proposed costs for the expansion project are $819,756. This includes $294,390 for a second exhibit area, $81,290 for a loading dock, $307,450 for renovations to the existing building renovation and a contingency allowance of $136,626, or 20 per cent of the project cost.

The work, if approved by Summerland council, would begin early in 2023.

Funding would come from the BC Arts Council Arts Infrastructure Program, the Canada Cultural Spaces Fund, Employment and Social Development Canada’s Enabling Accessibility Fund and the Investing in Canada Infrastructure Program’s Community, Culture and Recreation Infrastructure Stream.

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An expansion project is proposed for the Summerland Museum. The areas in grey show the proposed expansions. (Submitted)

An expansion project is proposed for the Summerland Museum. The areas in grey show the proposed expansions. (Submitted)