Renewed calls to replace New Brunswick Museum after ceiling collapses in exhibition centre
The Market Square location remains closed while repairs are being made
Work is underway to repair the roof and ceiling at the New Brunswick Museum's exhibition centre in Market Square after a heavy rain last weekend caused a section of the ceiling to collapse onto some displays.
The museum's chief operating officer, Bill Hicks, said a few ship models and exhibition panels were damaged when the wet sheetrock fell on top of them.
"There could have been a lot more damage," he said.
As soon as the damage was found, Hicks said, museum staff, conservators and curators began assessing the artifacts and moving them to a safe place.
Hicks said repairs to the roof have been going on, but added it is a challenging space to continue to work in. He said the centre has been unchanged for 20 to 25 years and doesn't meet visitors' expectations.
"We know that from an experience point of view that in the next few years, we really have to redo the exhibition centre, not just so much about where it is, but to make the experience live up to the expectations of people who come visit it."
The centre will remain closed until the roof repairs are made.
Hicks said it's heartbreaking to see something like this happen as museum staff continue to deal with other infrastructure issues at both the Market Square location and at the collections and research centre on Douglas Avenue.
"There's no question that, at both of these facilities, it can feel a bit dismal."
Hicks said there are urgent needs at both facilities that need to be addressed.
The proposed $100-million waterfront project that would have seen a four-storey, 120,000-square foot structure built to house both the exhibition centre and archives was cancelled by the Progressive Conservative government in 2018.
"Staff at the museum who have been there way longer than I have seen the ups and downs and proposals to refresh, renew facilities a number of times."
He said it's hard to get your hopes built up only to be let down.
"I'm optimistic, and I have to be optimistic, that we're getting closer to another approach to a good, functional, reasonable approach to renewing facilities."
Hicks said the ceiling collapse reinforces the serious need for a new museum soon.
"You know, who knows what the consequences are?"
As a result of the water leak and damage to museum artifacts, Hicks said there is a renewed interest with the province at the department and cabinet level that he hopes will help.
"It's been a long time and it's pretty obvious now that something has to happen in terms of facility renewal."
With files from Information Morning Saint John