B.C. Maritime Museum executive director David Leverton spoke about wanting the Maritime Museum of BC to have a national title when he spoke with Black Press in May 2018. (Nicole Crescenzi/News Staff)

Victoria’s Maritime Museum seeks national status in Bastion Square

The Maritime Museum of B.C. wants to move back in and reopen by July 2021

The Maritime Museum of BC (MMBC) is setting its sights back to Bastion Square.

On Thursday, the Maritime Museum announced its intentions to reinvent itself as a national museum and take back its spot at 28 Bastion Square, which it occupied for 50 years.

The museum moved from Bastion Square in 2015 to a much smaller space in Nootka Court at the province’s suggestion.

“Some fallen plaster and several leaks had caused the province, which owns the National Historic Site, to judge the structure unsafe and therefore asked MMBC to vacate the property,” the museum said in a release. “The museum was forced to pack up its vast collections and put them in storage, thus keeping them mostly hidden from the public, scholars and historians.”

READ MORE: B.C. Maritime Museum angling for waterfront location, national status

The 1889 courthouse provided the museum 25,000 sq. feet of space, while the current property at 634 Humboldt St. gives 3,000 sq. ft, resulting in most the collection sitting in off-site storage.

MMBC believes the vast collection is worthy of national status.

“The return of the museum to its renovated premises and its transformation into a Canadian Maritime Museum will ensure that the Pacific Region is included in the national museum fabric of Canada,” said MMBC Board Chair Don Prittie in a statement.

Currently Canada has six national museums, four of which are in Ottawa, one of which is in Halifax and one in Winnipeg.

ALSO READ: Maritime Museum of B.C. brings sinking ship back to life in Victoria

Having national status in the Pacific would allow for easier exhibit exchanges, as well as promote economic growth in the area.

“This project has the potential to be a major economic and educational win-win for all citizens of the Greater Victoria Region and British Columbia along with fellow Canadians who will have the opportunity to learn more about Canada’s amazing multi-coastal maritime heritage, science and culture.”

Moving in, rebuilding and re-branding the museum would cost about $45 million, which the MMBC said is nothing compared to Winnipeg’s Canadian Museum of Human Rights, which cost $351 million. This would include seismic upgrades, as well as the addition of an annex and an off-site storage facility.

At this point, the project is all conceptual, said Brittany Vis, associate director. Proposals have been put forward to the provincial and federal government, and the MMBC has applied for a substantial grant from the Investing in Canada Infrastructure Program, but so far no responses have been put forward.

The MMBC hopes to reopen as the Canadian Maritime Museum on July 20, 2021 in order to commemorate the 150th anniversary of B.C. joining Canada.

nicole.crescenzi@vicnews.com


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