Nfld. & Labrador

Historic Ferryland Museum feeling financial squeeze

The oldest operating tourist attraction on the Irish Loop, the Ferryland museum, is just scraping by and has launched a fundraiser to try to keep its doors open.

Museum launches fundraiser to raise much-needed cash

The Historic Ferryland Museum is feeling the financial pinch, so they're trying to raise thousands of dollars to keep their doors open. (HFNL/Andrea O'Brien 2006)

The oldest operating tourist attraction on the Irish Loop, the Historic Ferryland Museum, is just scraping by and has launched a fundraiser to try to keep its doors open.

Museum curator and president of the local historical society, Maxine Dunne, said it costs $10,000 to $12,000 each year to keep the museum going.

But Dunne said they only receive a couple of thousand dollars each from the town and the provincial government, and it's just not enough.

Their grant from the province hasn't changed since 1985, Dunne said.

"It's now 2015, and we're still getting $2,100 from a cultural economic development program [from the province], and we're trying to be professional, and run a professional building on that amount of money," she said.

"So you know, no, of course you're not satisfied with that. But we're grateful that we get that much — but it's nowhere near what you'd need to run efficiently."

The Ferryland museum was once the town's old court house. It has a recreated court room, the original jail cell, the magistrate's office and exhibits depicting community life. (HFNL/Andrea O'Brien 2006)
It means the museum is still left with a big financial hole to fill every year, according to Dunne.

"It still leaves us with having to raise about $7,000. Someone suggested to us that we do a fundraiser that's called 'Grand in Your Hand,'" she said.

Dunne said they're selling 180 tickets at $10 each. The prize is $1,000 and the museum gets the other $800.

"So far, so good," said Dunne. They've held one draw and are now on their second, and they're getting a lot of buzz around the ticket drive.

Dunne said it's a tremendous amount of work to run the museum. Most of it is done by volunteers, though they receive a grant to hire two students for the lucrative summer tourist season. 

Historic building

The museum houses exhibits depicting life in the community. The building itself has huge historic significance. According to Dunne, it was once the old courthouse and then the doctor's residence before becoming the community museum in 1974.

"The building itself has a recreated court room and the original jail cell and the magistrate's office," she said.

"Besides that, we're also the source of information for students on heritage projects. We've assisted the general public with genealogical information for personal reasons or medical purposes."

So you know, no, of course you're not satisfied with that. But we're grateful that we get that much — but it's nowhere near what you'd need to run efficiently.- Maxine Dunne

At one point, the museum even used their genealogical records to assist a person track down compatible relatives in the United States, to potentially donate for a bone marrow transplant.

"There's a lot of different things that the museum helps people with, that sometimes the general public is unaware of," Dunne added.

She said the money raised from ticket sales will go towards conservation work, supplies, heat, light, and possible new exhibits, to keep the museum going.

People interested in buying tickets can go to the museum's Facebook page.

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