Canada Museum of Science and Technology says $156M starts new era

The Canada Science and Technology Museum says $156 million in the federal budget for a new storage facility will better protect its artifacts while putting more of them on public display.

'We've always been the 'make-do' museum, until now,' says CEO

Bicycles from Canada Science and Technology Museum's collection will be moved to a state of the art storage facility. (Steve Fischer/CBC)

A leaky roof, airborne mould and overstuffed storage bins will soon be a thing of the past for the Canada Science and Technology Museum.

The Liberal government dished out $156 million over three years in its budget for a new high-tech storage and conservation centre for the museum's vast collection.

"Myself personally, (I had been working on this) since 2002," said Fern Proulx, chief operating officer of the Canada Science and Technology Museums Corporation, on CBC Ottawa's All in a Day

The collection that includes the country's largest assortment of automobiles, motorcycles and ambulances, not to mention tools, appliances and gadgets from every era.

Currently the Museum's varied collection is taking up space in three warehouses- that were not designed to store valuable artifacts. (Steve Fischer/CBC)

Most of these 300,000 artifacts are crammed inside three leased warehouses near its Lancaster Road location and are rarely seen by the public.

"They are industrial-grade buildings, so they're more industrial-type warehouses which we've built environmentally-controlled rooms within certain components of it," said Proulx.

"The collection has been housed there for decades and has grown, we're right now at about 130 per cent capacity… it was getting harder and harder to maintain the collection reserve without putting anything at risk."

But that will change when the new 500,000 sq.ft. facility is done.

Tears of joy

"The new storage facility will be located a stone's throw from the museum and people will be able to go there and see a high percentage of the collection for the first time," said Alex Benay, CEO of the Canada Science and Technology Museums Corporation.

"Longtime members of the staff were crying tears of joy. We've always been the 'make-do' museum, 'MacGyvering' solutions, until now."

At the same time, the museum itself is undergoing a top-to-bottom overhaul.

The newly renovated Canada Science and Technology Museum is slated to reopen in Nov. 2017. (Concept drawings courtesy NCC)

In late 2014, the former Conservative government announced $80.5 million in funding to cover the costs of a new roof, a new facade, updates to the exhibit space and a retrofit of the building to meet updated fire and earthquake codes.​

The museum was forced to close its doors in September 2014 after maintenance workers discovered mould in its walls, following years of complaints about leaks in the roof.

The renovated museum is expected to reopen in the fall of 2017 during Canada's yearlong 150th birthday celebrations, Proulx said. 

The museum will also be turning 50 years old in 2017.

The museum said it's too early to say when the public spaces at the new warehouse will be ready, but it will be later than the museum itself reopening in 2017.