SUMMERSIDE – As a community staple, steeped in history, Lori Ellis can’t wait to see the new mix with the old, inside the International Fox Museum and Hall of Fame.
The 106-year-old building will undergo major renovations in the new year, transforming the former armoury into an interactive and more accessible learning-based community space.
“We want to use the space in order to tell larger and more stories. We want to increase access to heritage by capturing new space with the building,” said Ellis, the manager of heritage and cultural properties for Culture Summerside.
Currently, Ellis and staff at Wyatt Heritage Properties are in an organizational stage, working to arrange funding and partners in the project.
“All big projects are contingent on dollars. But we have great optimism. Right now we’re getting all of our ducks in a row financially.”
In September, Summerside City Council approved $10,000 funding to hire a third party to conduct a study and report on the scope of work for the project. Their job was to double-check the work Culture Summerside had already put into the project.
Ellis and Culture Summerside staff have met with City Council a number of times to update the process.
Currently they do not have a set value for the renovation.
Once funding partners are in place, the cost will be more certain, said Ellis.
“It is a substantial renovation.”
Ellis says the renovations will allow for better use of the various levels of the building, with the Fox Museum moving to the top floor.
“It will have the potential to showcase fuller profiles in the city’s history or say if an organization wanted to profile something there will also be that opportunity. We also want to incorporate items from other communities for displays to broaden the understanding of the community and other places in Canada or the world.”
“We don’t plan to use text panels in the exhibits which will allow us to constantly rotate exhibits by using different technologies.”
It will cut cost, allow for temporary and rotating exhibits, participant interaction and a level of comfort for younger participants.
Marlene Campbell, a Culture Summerside staffer, is excited to see the old and new unite.
“What excites me is the fact that it’s combining the old and new in a celebration of our history.
“We’ll be able to tell many stories in the digital manner that will appeal to many people. The armoury is an important building in the community. And it’s a special place in people’s personal histories.”
Peter Holman, president of the Summerside and Area Historical Society, says he is very pleased with the plan for the historic building.
“The project will preserve the building and increase access to community space. It won’t be a traditional museum, but I think it will seem more like an interpretative centre.”
Holman says using modern technology is a great opportunity.
“It will save space and allow exhibits to pass through. What they’re planning is a sign of the times, but it’s a wonderful idea.”