Open house presentation showcases vision for a revitalised museum

Arlen MacLaine
By Arlen MacLaine
October 18th, 2013

Members of the community gathered at the museum on Tuesday for an open house and public presentation by Donald Luxton.  Luxton and his team, Donald Luxton & Associates, have been working with the Rossland Museum Gateway Project Advisory Committee since August to come up with ways to revitalize the site and reassert the museum as a major attraction in Rossland.  There was great community participation, with between 40-50 people crammed into a small theatre for the first of two presentations.

Luxton used his wealth of experience in cultural planning and resource management, and architecture to propose improvements to all aspects of the museum, including the site itself, the building, exhibits, and programming.  

“Museums aren’t just about the past. They are part of the community, the cultural part,” said Luxton.  “We need to engage people on many different levels.”

With regard to the building itself, the theme had to do with opening up the space.  Using examples of other museums, Luxton showed that by doing this, the museum creates the desired effect of an open and inviting presence.  A major part of this concept was the idea of creating an entrance gallery housed in an atrium.  

This could be accomplished relatively simply and inexpensively, he explained, by removing some unnecessary walls, moving the washrooms, and using the empty space above the ceiling.  More space would be created by consolidating all the storage space in the back of the building, and shuffling around the gift shop.  The exterior of the building could also be clad in inexpensive metal, which would create a more modern feel, as well as be easily adaptable.  Another idea was to have a large screen, running along the exterior, which would act as a sign.

“These are key and fairly straightforward things to achieve, but there is a huge impact in doing this,” said Luxton.  “We have now tightened and rationalized the building, have reused everything that is useful, and we’ve done it in the way that takes the best advantage of what we have.”

As for the exhibits,the themes of geology, industry, and community history pervaded the presentation.  Luxton’s group wants to streamline the exhibits and group them coherently.  Luxton also suggested having satellite exhibits around town, at places like the library or Red Mountain, in order to draw people to the Museum.  Arguably the biggest and best idea coming out of the presentation, was the idea to re-create (artificially) the mining experience.  The permanent closure of the old mining exhibit was one of the major events that triggered the drop in museum visits.  Now, Luxton and his team are proposing to re-create that experience by building an artificial mine tunnel, running around the side of the exterior of the building, that would lead to a gallery that is housed in the mining tunnel.

“We think this will be the core of the new museum experience,” said Luxton.  “We want to create a sensory experience, with sounds of drills and water dripping.  With the exhibit being outside, we can actually have water dripping and other features.

The public input was very positive, and the reception to the presentation was warm.  There were a couple of questions regarding costs and funding options.  Luxton proposed a ballpark figure of around 3 million for the project, but pointed out that the plan is still in a conceptual phase. The renovations and upgrades are to be compartmentalized, so they can be done in stages, while still keeping the museum open, creating more options for funding.

So, what’s next?  Luxton gave the same presentation to the Rossland Museum Gateway Advisory Committee on Wednesday.  Following that presentation, Mayor Greg Granstrom said the next step is to provide a consolidated report to council, and then to look at possible fundraising options.

Other News Stories