New Brunswick

New Brunswick Museum resumes search for new home after province cancelled project

Eight months after the provincial government pulled the plug on a new building for the New Brunswick Museum, talks are underway to find alternative solutions to ongoing facility challenges, says the museum CEO.

Talks with province underway to find solutions to ongoing facility challenges, says CEO

The New Brunswick Museum's Douglas Avenue location, which houses the collections and research centre, has structural problems and is 'inadequate,' said CEO Bill Hicks. (CBC)

Eight months after the provincial government pulled the plug on a new building for the New Brunswick Museum, talks are underway to find alternative solutions to ongoing facility challenges, says the museum CEO.

Bill Hicks says losing 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 felt like "a punch in the gut," he said.

But after a "period of mourning," it was "time to refocus" and find new ways to move forward.

The aging collections and research centre facility on Douglas Avenue, which dates back to 1934, continues to pose threats, such as leaks and mould, to the valuable collections; health and safety risks to staff and "spatial challenges," said Hicks.

And the public exhibit location at Market Square, although not as old, is in need of a "revamp, refresh."

Bill Hicks is the CEO of the New Brunswick Museum. 10:16

But the new museum was one of four major Liberal infrastructure projects cancelled by the Higgs government last December as a cost-cutting measure. It would have cost provincial taxpayers $50 million.

"It's not so much a matter now of trying to convince everybody that we need new facilities," said Hicks. "Everybody has accepted that.

"And there is a desire on everybody's part to find that solution."

'Find the best approach'

Museum officials are working with representatives from the Department of Tourism, Heritage and Culture, the Department of Transportation and Infrastructure and the premier's office to "find the best approach."

Hicks said they're revisiting the various studies and design proposals that have been done over the years and "trying to pull the best parts out of them into a workable approach."

That could mean separate facilities or merging them under one roof, he said.

"We're just not at a point of knowing exactly the direction we're going in, but we know we're going in some direction."

Hicks said he's optimistic and hopes to see some decisions being made by the end of the year.

With files from Information Morning Saint John

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