The White Rock Museum and Archives was formally reopened Aug. 12 in a sunny evening ceremony on the museum plaza that brought together past and present staff, volunteers, supporters, community movers and shakers and representatives of three levels of government.
The museum restoration, which cost in excess of $1.4 million overall – including public donations and fundraising drives – has maximized exhibition, gallery and programming areas, doubled storage space in the facility and added computerized climate controls for exhibition and archival materials, while retaining the popular ticket office.
It has also returned the historic former Great Northern Railway station to its original 1913 configuration, including a glassed-in ‘breezeway’ space linking Marine Drive and the waterfront, which now serves as the museum’s gift shop area.
Before inviting guests in to see the revamped museum’s inaugural exhibit, Aliens Among Us – a travelling show from the Royal B.C. Museum highlighting invasive species and their impacts on B.C. flora and fauna – White Rock museum manager Sharon Oldaker and museum board chair Coun. Doug McLean welcomed a large array of dignitaries.
Included were Mayor Catherine Ferguson and White Rock council members Lynne Sinclair, Helen Fathers, Al Campbell and Mary-Wade Anderson; South Surrey-White Rock-Cloverdale MP Russ Hiebert; Surrey-Panorama MLA Stephanie Cadieux and Semiahmoo First Nation councillors Joanne Charles and Kevin Cook.
Hiebert and Cadieux spoke of the matching federal, provincial and city infrastructure grants, announced almost two years ago, which contributed a total of $967,334 to the project.
“It shows that the three levels of government can come together quickly on these intentions without a whole lot of red tape – that’s when things can happen,” Cadieux said.
McLean recalled he had three objectives when he first joined the museum board – to have the museum on a sound financial basis, to have a strategic plan in place and “to modernize this building.”
“Now, all of these have been accomplished,” he said.
He also paid tribute to the legacy left behind by the late Elizabeth Keeling – a longtime supporter of culture in White Rock – which was also crucial in setting the renovation project in motion.
The opening, which was also attended by three former museum directors, Lorraine Ellenwood, Kathleen Tang and Meagan Kus, was formally blessed by First United Church minister Joan McMurtry.