Civic museum to move into Art Gallery of Windsor

A new civic museum will move into the main floor of the Art Gallery of Windsor while the main branch of the Windsor Public Library stays put.

Main branch of the Windsor Public Library stays put

Moving a museum to the art gallery is expected to cost almost $3 million. (Downtown Windsor BIA)

A new civic museum will move into the main floor of the Art Gallery of Windsor.

While talk of relocating the library into that space is on hold, city council voted Monday night to renovate the ground floor into space for a new museum.

Coun. Fulvio Valentinis said this plan is a good fit for everyone.

"The interaction with the art gallery and what this does because of the synergies between the two," he said.

Coun. Alan Halberstadt is one of two councillors who voted against putting a new museum in the art gallery.

He said a proposal by a group of businessmen to place the museum in their building in the 1100 block of University Avenue West should have been investigated further.

"Let's take a look at it. Let's be open. Honestly, this proposal, the recommendation, doesn't turn my crank," he said.

Two businessmen who are developing the old Junction property on University Avenue West tried to convince council to make a museum part of their project. Council didn't support the idea.

Coun. Jo-Anne Gignac is the councillors who voted against the art gallery plan.

"Maybe I'm going to be the skunk in the cabbage patch but just because we own the Art Gallery of Windsor now, and there's 16,000 square feet in an area, I feel it is going to be very congested," she said.

The move to the art gallery is expected to cost almost $3 million, for renovations and exhibits. That will include $1.5 million for exhibits and $1.2 for renovations.

The museum at the historic Francois Baby House will remain open for francophone and First Nations displays.

As well, smaller museums known as "spokes" will be located in different areas of the city, including Olde Sandwich Towne.

Gignac said she isn't convinced families will want to "visit spokes and hubs."

City administration will now prepare a more detailed business plan.

Grants from the senior levels of government will be sought.

The next step is to develop a business plan and apply for federal grants.

Mayor Eddie Francis said the issue of a museum has gone "unaddressed for far too long."

Plans to relocate the central library branch Ouellette Avenue to the art gallery are on hold.

Francis said if an "economic development opportunity" takes shape, the library will move out of its current site.