By Ursula Maxwell-Lewis
September 29 will be opening day for the long anticipated completion of the Museum of Surrey.
Located in Cloverdale on the north side of Highway 10, the museum will anchor an impressive cultural campus comprising the $15.7-million museum expansion, the 1912 Municipal Hall (now the Surrey Archives), the Cloverdale Library (a renowned genealogy resource), Veteran’s Square Cenotaph, plus the iconic Anderson Cabin, the historic Anniedale School and the 1881 Town Hall.
In addition to being valuable educational resources, public admission to all the buildings will be free. This is an ongoing Friends of the Museum and Archives Society initiative established five years ago.
Museum of Surrey staff are to be commended for their dedicated pursuit of federal and municipal funding, which have enabled the expansion to become a reality.
I asked Museum of Surrey Manager Lynn Saffery for his views on this year-long project and what visitors can expect to see.
Q: What do you anticipate the museum will add to Surrey, and the historic Cloverdale town centre?
A: The Museum of Surrey tells the stories of people beginning with the Coast Salish nations who have lived here from time immemorial, to the contemporary international people who immigrated to Canada and chose to make Surrey their home. Surrey is proudly diverse, inclusive and unique.
I’m excited for Cloverdale and it’s amazing residents. The museum, Fraser Valley Heritage Railway, Surrey Archives, Cloverdale Library, and much more, strengthen this vibrant walkable town centre.
All these unique initiatives are supported by experts and volunteers passionate about their work. Cloverdale is now a heritage and cultural destination for tourists and residents. It has unlimited potential.
| The $15.7-million museum expansion will have its grand opening on September 29.
City of Surrey
Q. What advantages will this expansion have over the former single structure?
A: We finally have the space to tell Surrey’s story and provide a museum that is dynamic, exciting and fun. We can have exhibitions, programs and events that attract people from all over the province and begin to show the world that the City of Surrey is a vibrant, exciting place to live. The expansion allows us to be a “people museum” – a museum about the people and communities of Surrey.
Q: The First Peoples Gallery. How will it operate and what will it encompass?
A: The Indigenous Hall is a unique space that is designed, curated and written by Surrey’s three land-based Nations – Semiahmoo First Nation, Kwantlen First Nation and Katzie First Nation. This is a first of its kind – a space of gathering, storytelling and exhibition that is voiced completely by the communities it represents. It will entirely encompass our values and mission.
Q: The TD Explore Zone. What are the major differences between it and the children’s zone in the old site?
A: The TD Explore Zone is three times the size of the former children’s gallery. It is a completely interactive family space with activities telling the Surrey sustainability story, sharing our ability to be be a thriving, green and inclusive city, and demonstrating the relationship between us and the rest of the world. It is a fun zone where kids and families learn, engage and participate. This exhibition, although permanent, will have areas that change depending on what feature exhibition is on at the time. For instance, there will be learning activities that relate sustainability with dinosaurs!
Q: Dinos are the first major travelling exhibit. What would you like to emphasize about it – and what will be coming in the future?
A: This is our first of many strong, well-researched and participatory exhibitions. The feature gallery will have three exhibits per year and will tell the story of our world and, more importantly, the stories of Surrey’s diverse communities. Next year we have an exhibition that will show off our rich collection using LEGO. This will be a super fun exhibit highlighting the world through the ages.
It will also give visitors glimpses of artifacts from Surrey residents. We are also working on an exhibit for Fall 2019 that will be curated by the diverse, strong and well-established Surrey Punjabi communities. This exhibit is really exciting as we will be having the community share their values and aspirations at the Museum of Surrey in a major exhibition for the first time. In 2020, more great exhibits are planned.
| The museum expansion will also include a large “welcoming foyer” for special events, seen here in a rendering.
City of Surrey
Q: When will the historic Anniedale School and 1881 Town Hall be moved? Will they need much restoring? Are any special uses anticipated for these heritage structures?
A: Anniedale School and the 1881 Town Hall will be moved the first week of September – overnight. They will need to be restored for contemporary uses such as accessibility, fire suppression, etc. The town hall will be used as a space for community bookings and as a program room for our education and public programs. Anniedale School will be a schoolhouse featuring interpretation of Surrey’s extensive education history. Children will experience school days of 100 years ago! Due to restoration and rehabilitation, a Spring 2019 unveiling of these two historic buildings is anticipated.
Q: Parking and admission are both free. What other comments would you care to make about the project, staff involvement, public involvement or other aspects of the museum?
A: This is a “people museum.” We want Surrey to know that [the Museum of Surrey] is for its people and their stories. The Museum of Surrey will be a sharing, connecting and engaging centre. As a community hub for everyone, it will be fun, dynamic, participatory and welcoming.
For more about the Museum of Surrey go to https://www.surrey.ca/culture-recreation, or connect on Facebook and Instagram.
Ursula Maxwell-Lewis is a B.C. journalist and photographer with a passion for history. Contact her at email@example.com.