The board of directors at the New Brunswick Museum could soon take the reins of the planning and construction of a new facility.
Legislation introduced by the province Tuesday would transition the authority from the government to the board.
“This amendment empowers the board to design, procure, construct the museum here in the City of Saint John,” Minister of Tourism, Heritage, and Culture Tammy Scott-Wallace told reporters Tuesday.
Following a nearly two-decade stint inside Market Square in Saint John’s Uptown, the museum and its artifacts moved out of the property in October.
The museum has remained shuttered for the past two years due to COVID-19 restrictions and later, a desperate need for repairs.
“For the board and for the people of New Brunswick, we’ve had 44 versions, I believe, of a new museum in the province over the past 30 years, and we’ve never been able to get it over the finish line,” Scott-Wallace remarked.
Among those visions was a $100-million museum along the Saint John waterfront, for which the Brian Gallant Liberal government promised to foot half the bill in 2018.
However, following the election of the Blaine Higgs Progressive Conservative government, the plans were scrapped.
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The New Brunswick Museum denied a request for an interview on Wednesday. Instead, the museum provided a statement to Global News.
“On behalf of the Board of the New Brunswick Museum, I can confirm that we are encouraged by the proposed amendments to the Act introduced on November 15, which will empower the Board to oversee construction of a new facility in Saint John,” said Dr. Kathryn Hamer, chair for the board of directors of the New Brunswick Museum.
“Once it has passed the committee stage, and we have had an opportunity to review the amendments in their final form, we will be able to comment further.”
The decision to shift power away from the government is also expected to create more financial interest among private groups.
“It really doesn’t take away from the provincial, federal opportunities to fund the museum or to help fund the museum, but it really does open the door to private interests,” Scott-Wallace said.
The minister did not reveal which private interests are expected to contribute.
With the new legislation, the province has disclosed a new temporary location for the collections and research centre, which is expected to open by appointment next year.
Previously located in an aging building on Douglas Avenue, Mark Taylor, a spokesperson for the department, stated it will move to 226 Lancaster Ave.
As for the timeline on a new home for the New Brunswick Museum, Scott-Wallace said she expects proposals from the board of directors “very soon.”