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Rendering of revitalized New Brunswick Museum. Image: Diamond Schmitt

N.B. Museum secures $108M for revitalization project

By News Mar 25, 2024 | 10:23 AM

The New Brunswick Museum revitalization project marked a significant step forward on Monday.

Provincial and federal officials announced nearly $108 million in funding for the long-awaited project.

New Brunswick will contribute $58 million while the federal government will spend $49.9 million.

“With substantial funding from provincial and federal governments and a significant contribution from the museum itself, this project represents an important milestone for our province,” Tracy Clinch, chair of the museum’s board, said in a news release.

“It’s a testament to our commitment to preserving New Brunswick’s rich heritage while embracing sustainability and innovation.”

The museum itself will also contribute funding toward the project, although that figure was not announced.

Officials also unveiled the design for the 134,000-square-foot facility which will house research, exhibition, and community spaces under one roof.

Toronto-based architectural firm Diamond Schmitt was selected through a request for proposals process to plan and design the new space.

Premier Blaine Higgs said finding a permanent home for the museum has been an important project for the provincial government.

Higgs said they decided to keep it in the Douglas Avenue area due to the location’s history of being a portage area for First Nations people and European settlers.

“This renewed infrastructure will be a place to preserve and showcase our province’s natural and cultural history for generations to come,” said Higgs.

“We are no longer the drive-through province, we are the drive-to province.”

Officials had previously planned to build a new museum along the Saint John waterfront at a cost of $100 million.

But in 2018, the Progressive Conservatives under Higgs pulled a $50-million funding commitment that had been made by the previous Liberal government a year earlier, effectively cancelling the project.

The museum’s Douglas Avenue location first opened its doors in the 1930s, but officials realized by the early 1990s that they needed more space.

In April 1996, the museum officially opened its exhibition centre in Market Square uptown. The Douglas Avenue building continued to house its collections centre and archives.

After two years of closures — first due to COVID-19, then due to the required building repairs as a result of leaks — officials permanently closed the exhibition centre in 2022.

The revitalized museum on Douglas Avenue is expected to open to the public sometime in 2026. Previous estimates have pegged the costs at around $150 million.

Meanwhile, the museum has set up a temporary research and collections centre on Lancaster Avenue.