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Museum wants to give the past a new future

Johanna Reymerink and Eric Veistrup of the Chemainus Valley Historical Society show off the plans for the new and improved Chemainus Museum during a recent open house. - Niomi Pearson
Johanna Reymerink and Eric Veistrup of the Chemainus Valley Historical Society show off the plans for the new and improved Chemainus Museum during a recent open house.
— image credit: Niomi Pearson

The home of history in Chemainus is about to get an extreme makeover, thanks to the efforts of the Chemainus Valley Historical Society.

The society is currently fundraising an estimated $500,000 to expand and improve the museum at Waterwheel Park, a three-year project they hope to get off the ground in the spring.

To date, they have raised just over $65,000 through private donations and hope to up that through fundraising and grant writing.

“We need more storage; we’re bursting out of the seams,” Johanna Reymerink, president of the Chemainus Valley Historical Society, said of the current building.

The expansion project will be completed in three phases and when finished, will double the exhibition area and the storage areas of the museum for a total of 4,500 square feet added to the building.

Phase one of the expansion consists of the construction of the sub-level at an estimated cost of $60,000. This sub-level is the foundation and base of the new expansion and will give the society a bonus multi-purpose room.

Phase two will consist of the construction of the outer walls and roof of the new expansion, including both the basement and main levels. There will also be an elevator installed. An estimated start time for phase two is by the end of 2013, aiming for completion by the end of 2014.

Phase three will be the joining of the old with the new museum, finishing and remodeling all areas and reorganizing all displays.

Eric Veistrup Chemainus Valley Historical Society vice-president, says the society is aiming to have all of the work complete in 2016 in time for the 25th anniversary of the original Chemainus Museum opening.

“We are going to have one of the most attractive museums on Vancouver Island, there’s no doubt about that,” he said.

Veistrup, the architect of the original building built in 1991, said the project will not only mean better storage and more display space for the museum, but it will also be a great improvement within Waterwheel Park.

“We’re trying to keep it as a small town forest theme,” he said. “It fits in with the park with all the trees.”

He added that the addition of space for an information centre is being negotiated.

In 2011, the Chemainus Museum had a total of 25,697 visitors from March to December. As of Oct. 1, there had been a total of 26,372 visitors to the museum since March.

Anyone interested in helping fundraise for the project can contact the Chemainus Valley Historical Society at 250-246-2445 or visit the museum’s website.

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