One New Brunswick Museum location preparing to reopen after shutdown that lasted more than a year
SAINT JOHN, N.B. -- For the first time in over a year, the New Brunswick Museum's Collections and Research Centre in Saint John, N.B., is set to reopen its doors to the public.
The building on Douglas Avenue, which dates back to the 1930s, has been closed to visitors since March of last year due to a combination of both complications from the COVID-19 pandemic and longstanding infrastructure issues.
"There have been some major issues in relation to the building which has caused it to be closed," said transitional CEO Bernard Riordon, who was named to the position earlier this year.
"We are reopening to the public for the archives and the library section by appointment starting next week on Tuesday to Friday, on a weekly basis, to provide an essential service."
But while the Douglas Avenue facility prepares to welcome visitors once again, the Exhibition Centre located uptown in Market Square remains closed. It has now been about eight months since heavy rain on Thanksgiving weekend led to a ceiling collapse in the facility's Shipbuilding gallery, falling down on ship models and panels.
"Our latest issue did cause some water damage to some artifacts," said head of the Humanities Department Peter LaRoque in an interview back in October. "We removed about 128 artifacts from our industry and marine history exhibition space. There were eight items that were directly impacted."
According to the New Brunswick Museum, building repairs are ongoing at the Market Square location by their landlord, but it's hoped that they'll be fixed sometime in the near future.
"We're hoping that we can get those resolved and be open to the public sometime in the next few months," says Riordon.
"It's a lot of work that has to get done, and then of course we have to put the exhibitions all back in place, because the exhibits were wrapped up in plastic through the entire building, because we had to make sure they were protected and preserved and kept safe."
In the meantime, the museum has gotten creative with its programming by planning projects that go beyond the boundaries of the facilities. That includes offering virtual classes, which has already reached 2500 students across the province.
Starting in July, the museum will be offering interpreter-led walking tours in the uptown.
"Every week it's going to be a different team and you can come to book or check out on the website or social media to see where and when we're doing that," says Dominique Gelinas, head of exhibitions and visitor experience — who adds that they will also be doing, quick "flash heritage spot(s)" —where they will, for example, talk about the history of a single building.
"That's brand new, and I think we're going to be very happy with that."