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The former home of the New Brunswick Museum exhibition centre in Saint John. Image: Submitted/New Brunswick Museum

N.B. Museum Seeks Architectural Firms To Plan New Facility

By Brad Perry Feb 2, 2023 | 3:24 PM

The New Brunswick Museum is seeking proposals from architectural firms for a new facility.

It is described as an important milestone in the revitalization project for the provincial museum.

Kathryn Hamer, who chairs the museum’s board, said there is lots of excitement and nervousness.

“I’m excited because this is a big first step. I’m nervous because this is a complex process,” Hamer said in an interview.

“But I’m pretty confident in the people that are going to be doing the initial work and the people on the board who are going to be well qualified to evaluate the proposals that we are going to be receiving.”

Last fall, the New Brunswick Museum permanently closed its exhibition centre in Saint John’s Market Square.

It had been closed for the better part of two years — first due to COVID-19, then due to required building repairs as a result of leaks.

An interim collections and research centre is being prepared to house the museum’s collections and research activities while a permanent exhibition and collections facility is constructed in Saint John.

The request for proposals (RFP) opened on Jan. 25 and interested firms have until Feb. 15 to get their submissions in.

Hamer acknowledged the tight deadline but said this is not a “full-fledged design process” at this point.

“At this stage, we’re not looking for finished, complete architectural design, blueprints, engineering, all that stuff,” she said.

“We’ll want evidence that they’ve done these types of projects before, we’ll want some idea from them of how they conceive of doing a project of this sort.

The RFP has only been active for a week but Hamer said it has already generated a lot of interest.

She said it does not come as any surprise to her since museums do not get built every day.

“The opportunity for a good firm to do something as groundbreaking and as legacy building as the New Brunswick Museum could be is something people with that kind of architectural experience would be really interested in.”

Short-listed candidates will be interviewed and the museum board hopes to select the successful proponent later in March.

Hamer said they have an “ambitious timeline” to have the museum completed and open to the public in the first quarter of 2026.

“As our experience over the pandemic years has demonstrated, construction delays are not unexpected and not unusual. But at this point, that’s what we’re shooting for,” she said.

No site has been chosen for the future museum. Hamer said she hopes proponents will evaluate site possibilities as part of their submissions.


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