As museums go, the Summerland Museum may not be overly large, but the Museum and Heritage Society believes it is comprehensive, educational, interesting and happy where it is.
Over the past several years, there has been considerable discussion about a Wharton Street development and the need for a new museum.
This municipal initiative included selling the downtown municipal land to fund a new museum.
However, the museum society believes the current museum building is still the best option.
While the existing structure needs some upgrades to make it more user-friendly and efficient, it has key features that have not been satisfactorily addressed in any of the development plans that have been put forward so far.
For instance, a covered loading dock is essential for a Class A museum.
The museum has the loading dock but just needs the cover. None of the development plans presented to the public make provision for a loading dock.
Storage space is a major concern as artifacts not currently exhibited must be stored safely.
Though new plans do increase the square footage, so far the museum has been fortunate in finding relatively inexpensive off-site storage and has an eye to additional space such as the basement of the new RCMP building.
By moving some of the items off-site it is creating more research, office and much needed classroom space.
There is also room on the existing property for possible building expansion in the future to increase display areas and add wheelchair access to the upper floor.
Another concern is the model railway, one of the main attractions of the museum.
Moving it is not an option so it would have to be dismantled; a great loss to the community as well as the museum.
The inviting green space in front of the building, frequently used for picnics, would also be lost in a new development.
Visitors have frequently commented that Summerland’s museum is charming and well laid out.
It is one of the few small museums that focuses on the history of its own community.
Outside, the intriguing architecture of the building, the relaxing landscaping and of course the beautifully carved bear, present a welcoming face for residents and visitors alike.
A lot of work and planning went into creating the unique design and the museum society believes trading it for one of many spaces in the bottom of a condominium development would take away some of the personality of our town.
Visit the museum and see for yourself what could be changed or lost. Maybe it is time to look for options that benefit everyone.
Submitted by the Board of Directors of the Summerland Museum and Heritage Society.