Winnipeg’s Dalnavert Museum is in danger of being closed forever if donors don’t step up quickly to save the historic site.
The museum was abruptly closed after the Labour Day long weekend by the Manitoba Historical Society. Officials cited funding issues and a drop in attendance as reasons.
Now, people who volunteer at the museum are desperate to find a solution to keep it open.
Vanessa Warne is a professor of Victorian literature at the University of Manitoba and volunteers at the historic site.
“To see it so perfectly restored and taken back to 1885 was amazing to me,” said Warne of the first time she saw the museum a few years ago.
The Dalnavert Museum was once a home that belonged to former Manitoba premier Sir Hugh John Macdonald, who was the son of Canada’s first Prime Minister, Sir John A. Macdonald.
“Forty years ago people poured their hearts into it to bring it back from the dead,” said Warne. “They restored it magnificently to what it is today. The thought of it dying a second death is just unbearable.”
Warne said she was one of many volunteers who was shocked the museum was closed so suddenly earlier this year.
Cindy Tugwell of Heritage Winnipeg said the museum’s financial problems should have been made public before the museum was closed.
“I think most Winnipeggers love this home and would hate to see it closed,” said Tugwell. “Maybe there’s a way that we could keep it open for part of the year even?”
The president of the Manitoba Historical Society, James Kostuchuk, said there aren’t many options unless a donor steps up.
“It is possible that a heritage house museum -- there just may not be a market for it in Winnipeg,” he said.
Kostuchuk said another option would be to have a business who would maintain the heritage of the building take over the space.
One street over, engineering firm Hanuschak Consultants has done just that.
But for Warne, it’s a bad solution.
“If we all walk by it and see a plaque, but it’s really an architect’s office or a dentist’s office, we lose the history,” she said.