B.C. Maritime Museum executive director David Leverton wants the museum to have a purpose-built location, and a national title. Nicole Crescenzi/VICTORIA NEWS

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

Most of collection sits in storage these days, with just 3,000 square feet for display space

The British Columbia Maritime Museum has had a tough time navigating the waters of real estate and government grants, but it’s not discouraged.

In fact, the organization is setting course for a much larger, much newer location – and seeking recognition as a national museum.

“Currently there are no national museums west of Winnipeg, so we think this would be a wonderful contribution to the Canadian museum fabric and the national fabric of museums by having something here in Victoria,” said executive director David Leverton.

The B.C. Maritime Museum, currently housed at 634 Humboldt St., was situated in the iconic 1889 courthouse building at 28 Bastion Sq. for 50 years. The historic facility allotted the museum 25,000 square feet of space, which Leverton said was useful, but a bit of a strange configuration.

The building began to reveal its age and the Maritime Museum moved out in 2015 at the suggestion of the province, which owns the structure. Bids are being accepted for a repurposing of the building, but it requires upwards of $12 million worth of renovations and seismic upgrades.

The Maritime Museum downsized to a location at Nootka Court that is less than 3,000 sq. ft.

“It’s very challenging in terms of doing meaningful displays,” Leverton admitted. “At the Bastion Square location we could have a lot of different objects out at any given time, because we had a lot more space to work with.”

The museum has been forced to get creative with its displays and outreach programs to share its collection, but Leverton said they’re still worried about their artifacts in storage.

At Bastion Square it was possible to store undisplayed items on site. Now, much of the collection is kept in a 10,000-sq.-ft. storage locker provided by the province, while some vessels are kept at Ogden Point.

The previous Maritime Museum in Bastion Square was originally a courthouse. This photo is dated 1895 (FILE CONTRIBUTED).

“The current problem we have there is … [it’s] not environmentally controlled at all,” Leverton said. “So it’s really subject to temperature variation, humidity variation and we’d very much like to, from a collections management perspective, get that into proper storage.”

Over the years the Maritime Museum has collected over 35,000 artifacts representing nautical history from B.C. and across Canada, as well as over 9,000 books and thousands of photographs and pieces of art. It’s an unparalleled collection that Leverton believes deserves a new and purpose-built space with a national title.

The museum has set a target goal to find a new location of 2021, in time to mark the 150th anniversary of B.C. joining confederation.

The Maritime Museum when it was situated in Bastion Square, circa the 1990s. (FILE CONTRIBUTED)

“We’re taking this year to really identify as many potential locations as possible, and then at the end of the year really sit down and evaluate which one is preferred,” Leverton said.

They will need to apply for grants through the Canada Cultural Spaces Fund and others, he added, but to be eligible they need a defined location.

As such, the museum is working closely with the provincial and federal governments to find the perfect spot. While there’s no site pinpointed yet, Leverton said they desire a central location for display purposes, as well as to have protected off-site storage for artifacts.

He also mentioned the dream goal:

“We want to be on the waterfront, if at all possible. We’re a maritime museum [with] a few vessels and we’d like to see those actually out on the water and to use them again.”

nicole.crescenzi@vicnews.com

Just Posted

Pet-A-Palooza a good reason to ‘pawse’ this weekend in Victoria

Puppies, goats, wiener dog races and more on the grounds of St. Ann’s Academy Aug. 18-19

UVic art display showcases craft of bookmaking

Art of the Book 2018 is in the Audain Gallery at UVic from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. starting Aug. 11

Celebrate local food with Feast of Fields in North Saanich

21st Feast of Fields on Vancouver Island is at Kildara Farms on Aug. 26 from 1 to 4 p.m.

RIFFLANDIA: Local artists thrive under festival model

Bands like Current Swell, one of the 2018 headliners, made their mark at RAP

Baseball’s HarbourCats wind up WCL season with loss to Pickles

Victoria needed a win to make the league playoffs, now looks ahead to 2019

Updated: ‘Queen of Soul’ Aretha Franklin has died

Publicist Gwendolyn Quinn reports Franklin passed Thursday at 9:50 a.m. at her home in Detroit

REVIEW: Ever wanted to be young again? Theatre Skam’s Concord Floral will make you think again

Strong acting in an interesting theatre space, writes Sheila Martindale

Brad Pitt says he has given Jolie Pitt millions since split

Actor Brad Pitt denies Angelina Jolie Pitt’s claim that he has paid no meaningful child support.

WINE LOVERS UNITE: Victoria festival offers numerous tasting options

Parkside Hotel and Spa hosting Victoria International Wine Festival

Farquhar Auditorium updates image for 40th season

The Farquhar at UVic ushers in new season Sept. 22

THEATRE SKAM: Young cast brings Concord Floral to life in vacant downtown retail space

Former office supply store a unique venue for telling mysterious tale of youth with secrets

Schedule released for world junior hockey championship in B.C.

Vancouver and Victoria ready to host, as Canada conducts training camp in Kamloops

Five things to do this B.C. Day long weekend

Check out these great community events in Greater Victoria

5 things to do in Greater Victoria this weekend

Check out dragon Boats, artists, football and more

Most Read