Museum completes deal to take over Military Bookshop

Sidney Museum society begins new year with new space

Exhibits and research materials will be expanded at the Sidney Museum.

Sidney’s Military Bookshop will soon be making way for an expansion of the Sidney Museum and Archives next door.

At the beginning of January, the owners of the book store and the society that runs the museum finalized a deal that saw the society take over ownership of the space. Society president Graham Debbling says they paid 15 per cent of the total purchase price in Jan. 1 and now have two years to pay the remainder. In the meantime, the Military Bookstore has until March 31 to move to new digs.

The move is part of the museum society’s ambitious — yet long-term — plan for growth and upgrades to its facility on Beacon Avenue. The added space will, Debbling said in a recent address to Sidney town council, allow the museum to add new displays, showcase artifacts that have been in storage for years and create a new, more visible entrance.

Come the end of March, when the book store moves out, Debbling said the society will probably close the museum for a couple weeks while they upgrade the electrical system. They plan to refurbish the space, which might take until May.

Over that time, he continued, the museum will remain open and people will be able to use the existing space. With the added space Debbling said the society will expand the storyline throughout the museum in such areas as natural history, European exploration, both world wars, community growth between 1920 and 1939, the airport history and more.

“In the next month or so,” Debbling said, “we will start asking the public for donations and donations of artifacts to compliment our own collection.”

Phase one, the addition of the new space and layout, is expected to be complete by the end of 2013. Over the subsequent four years, Debbling said the society will focus on fundraising, increase its collections and information available to researchers.

The society has a grant application in the works with Western Economic Development Canada, said Debbling.

They are waiting for word on that before embarking on any large fundraising efforts. Since announcing their expansion plans in the fall of 2012, however, he said they have already received between $5,000 and $7,000 in donations.

“This will be a major addition to the Town of Sidney,” said Mayor Larry Cross.

Cross and town council praised the work of the society volunteers — and that of Debbling himself, who announced Jan. 21 that he is in his last term as president, making his final presentation as such to town council.

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