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Advocates not optimistic for future of New Brunswick Museum

Click to play video: 'New Brunswick Museum moving from Market Square'
New Brunswick Museum moving from Market Square
WATCH: The New Brunswick Museum’s time inside Market square in Saint John is history. The province is announcing the attraction is on the move for the first time in nearly 30 years. Robert Lothian has more. – Oct 24, 2022

For the past two years, the New Brunswick Museum has sat idle, unavailable to residents and visitors.

For Karen McLean, a self-proclaimed history buff, it’s been nothing short of “discouraging.”

“That’s two years of kids not going and seeing things and being inspired, and New Brunswickers not being able to see what belongs to them,” said McLean, the founder of a Facebook group called Friends of the New Brunswick Museum.

Word of a new location for the museum doesn’t create an overwhelming sense of optimism for her.

“I really want to believe that the government is going to do something, finally, but I’ve been hoping that for 20 years, so really and truly, I don’t know what’s going to happen, and I’ll believe it when I see it,” she told Global News Monday afternoon.

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Located in Saint John, N.B., the New Brunswick Museum has remained shuttered over the past two years, first due to COVID-19 protocols, but then because of a need for facility repairs.

A spokesperson for the Department of Tourism, Heritage, and Culture confirmed the museum will pack up operations and move out of Market Square within the next two weeks.

“Finding a new home in Saint John for the New Brunswick Museum is an important step in having a location that will securely preserve and showcase our province’s natural and cultural history,” said Mark Taylor. “We are getting closer to making announcements about the museum’s future location. Once details have been finalized with the long-term revitalization plan, we look forward to proudly sharing it.”

The minister responsible, Tammy Scott-Wallace, was not made available for an interview.

For over 20 years, the museum has called Market Square home, following a move from the Douglas Avenue location. Previous plans to build a new facility were scrapped following the election of the Blaine Higgs Government.

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The Hardman Group Ltd., which operates Market Square, said despite efforts to keep the facility, the writing has long been on the walls for a potential move.

“Well, we’re sorry to see the museum go, but it’s been something that’s been in the works for well over the last 12 months,” president Bill Hardman told Global News, adding the premises needed to be “refreshed” by the tenant.

Over the long term, he said, the museum was no longer drawing the attraction they wanted for Market Square.

“It’s a good opportunity to move forward with a refresh of Market Square we’ve been in a holding mode for well over the last year.”

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As for the future of the museum, an interim centre is being prepared and is expected to open by appointment in 2023.

“We continue to put in the required time to plan the project well,” said Taylor.

But, according to McLean, there’s been “an awful lot of time” to plan the future of the museum. She hopes consultations will be open to the public to provide feedback, and the process will be done correctly, so she can get back to the place she loves.

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“In a lot of ways, it is our history, it is our culture, it is our collective memory, these are our stories.”

Click to play video: 'New Brunswick Museum still without a home'
New Brunswick Museum still without a home

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