The New Nanaimo Museum

Debbie TruemanWork on the new home of the Nanaimo Museum in the Port of Nanaimo Centre on Commercial St. is well underway with the first stage scheduled to open in July, 2008. On Tuesday night the Museum Society held its Annual General Meeting in the old Pipers Park museum and General Manager Debbie Trueman (pictured here) and other staff gave enthusiastic museum members a rundown on the new facility.

Rather than providing an exhaustive chronological history of Nanaimo, the new displays will spotlight unique features designed to capture the interest and imagination of visitors. The welcome room behind the reception will be a multimedia experience with maps and TV screens conveying the Spirit of Nanaimo. There will be information on the harbour and forestry – plus bathtub racing and the Nanaimo bar!

The core of the museum will be dedicated to the Snuneymuxw First Nation which has partnered with museum staff to create some exciting exhibits including a canoe and interactive shelter. Here the showcases will be made of cedar rather than glass. Further on visitors will be able to enter a recreated coal mining shaft. Other theme areas will be dedicated to the “Bastion Era”, living “Nanaimo Style”, and the city's "Movers and Shakers".

Through its Cultural Spaces Canada program the Department of Canadian Heritage has awarded the museum a grant of $2,280,000 to create the New Nanaimo Museum. The physical size of the exhibition area will increase from 10,000 square feet in the old museum to 16,000 square feet in the new, all of it on one level for easy accessibility. The reborn museum seems destined to become one of the city's star attractions for conference attendees, cruise ship passengers, and local residents alike. I look forward to its opening!

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