Surrey city councillor and acting mayor Vera LeFranc speaks to a crowded museum foyer at the funding announcement for the Surrey Museum expansion on July 27, 2017. (Sam Anderson)

$15.7-million Surrey Museum expansion to begin Monday

Surrey Museum closes July 30, plans to re-open September 2018 as ‘Museum of Surrey’

The $15.7-million Surrey Museum expansion project is officially underway.

Acting Surrey Mayor Vera LeFranc and Cloverdale-Langley City MP John Aldag gathered in the foyer of the museum on Thursday afternoon to announce the final funding numbers for the project. Construction is set to begin on July 31.

The expansion project will add 12,000 square feet of space to the museum’s current footprint, tripling the size of the Kids Explore Zone, creating an Indigenous Hall, to be completed by collaborating with Surrey’s Indigenous communities, and making room for a feature gallery that will be able to host national and international exhibitions.

These are exciting times,” said Museum Manager Lynn Saffery. “This [expansion] will turn this facility into a dynamic community-oriented cultural hub.”

“Indeed, I believe that the funding announcement heard here today will help turn the town centre of Cloverdale into a cultural and heritage destination for the entire Lower Mainland to come to,” said Saffery.

In February of this year, the federal government awarded the museum $377,269 through the Canada Cultural Spaces Fund to put towards the expansion project.

Today the City of Surrey received an additional $4.4 million, which brings the Government of Canada’s total contributions to the project to just over $4.9 million.

“The Government of Canada is proud to support the expansion of the Surrey Museum, which will help ensure that many more generations can continue to learn about Surrey, British Columbia and Canada’s rich history,” said Aldag in a press release.

“I’m always struck by the growth in the City of Surrey and the change,” said Aldag.

“It’s so important as we see the city really reinvent itself that we also remember where we came from,” he said. “A place like the museum can really help us capture the story of our history but also helps look to where we want to be in the future.”

The City of Surrey will foot the remaining $10,789,656 of the project cost—bringing the project total to just over $15.7 million.

The federal funds will be provided through the Provincial-Territorial Infrastructure Component – National and Regional Projects, which was highlighted earlier this week when Aldag and Hepner announced the joint-funding of $5.8 million in upgrades for Cloverdale Athletic Park.

Heritage Campus

As a part of the expansion project, the 126-year-old Anniedale School and the 1881 Townhall will be moved to the museum site to join the Anderson Cabin and create a “Heritage Campus.” The campus will also include the Surrey Archives, which operates out of the 1912 Municipal Hall, the Cloverdale Library and Veteran’s Square.

“The new heritage campus will educate and entertain visitors as they explore our stories and communities,” said Hepner in a press release. “The museum and campus will provide interactive and innovative perspectives about stories that link our communities with the relevant issues we face today.”

Working in partnership

LeFranc acknowledged “the tireless advocates for the museum,” the Friends of the Museum, who have been champions of the expansion project since the museum was built.

LeFranc also credited museum staff for working with local Indigenous groups to create a new Indigenous Hall. Important work, she said, “as we move forward in the spirit of reconciliation, trying to heal the wounds of the past and create a future together of true partnership.”

Closed for construction

The museum will be closed as of July 30 and is set to re-open as the “Museum of Surrey” in September 2018, when the expansion is scheduled to be complete.

“The way things are going right now, between August and October of this year, the main infrastructure will get built,” said Saffery. “Over the winter, the interior gets worked on. In the spring, when the rains stop, they can bring the [Anniedale] school and the 1881 Townhall over and then in the late spring they do the landscaping. That’s the general timeline.”

“The hope is that [museum staff] will be moving in by the spring. Moving in, training staff and then maybe some of the soft openings, fingers crossed. The official opening would be in September,” he said.

The Surrey Museum will continue its work through extension exhibits, school programs and a portable children’s program. A City of Surrey report states that the museum will engage with “at least 25,000 people” through these outreach programs, including staging an “Urban Fabrics” exhibit in the Guildford Shopping Centre and creating a travelling exhibit to celebrate the Francophone Association de Surrey’s 30th anniversary.

The closure of the museum will allow for $500,000 in construction cost savings and about $100,000 in utilities, wages, security, according to the report.

SurreyBC

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The $15.7-million museum expansion will kick off on July 31, 2017. (City of Surrey)

The museum expansion will also include a large “welcoming foyer” for special events, seen here in a rendering. (City of Surrey)

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