Qualicum Beach Museum manager Netanja Waddell and vice president of the board, Norm Whiteford, stand in front of part of the museum’s paleontology exhibit, which the museum hopes to build new cases for and move upstairs. To accomplish this and several other projects, the museum is looking for a fundraising volunteer. — Adam Kveton

QB Museum look to build new digs for old bones

Staff, board hope to continue revamp momentum by finding fundraising volunteer

If you have a knack for raising money, the Qualicum Beach Museum has a volunteer position just for you.

It’s been a busy few years for the museum, which is in the midst of a multi-year plan to revitalize the space.

The effort has already paid dividends, with museum stats showing admission and sales have doubled compared to five years ago, museum manager Netanja Waddell said.

But to keep momentum, the museum is in need of a volunteer to lead fundraising efforts as larger projects loom.

“People that have been in here, say, four or five years ago but not since, will notice a lot of improvements. But we still have a long way to go to realize our ultimate goals,” said Norm Whiteford, vice-president of the museum’s board.

He said the museum isn’t in need of funds for day-to-day activities, but some of the upcoming pieces of the five-phase plan will require “bigger pieces of funding.”

Perhaps the largest undertaking is the revamp of the paleontology exhibit — one of the museum’s three main offerings — in addition to the social history section and First Nations focus. The plan is to move the paleontology exhibit upstairs, build new cases and arrange the exhibit based on the time period the pieces are from.

“Some of the initial work will be, we’ll say, north of $100,000,” said Whiteford.

And while the museum has been successful in securing a number of grants, with more opportunities coming up, many of those require that the museum comes up with matching funds, or more funds than the grant is worth, he said.

“For a small operation like this to come up with $50,000, as an example, to go ahead with a project to get matching funds, is a challenge,” said Whiteford.

The museum currently has more than 20 weekly volunteers, with many more taking part less frequently, said Waddell.

With two part-time employees, volunteers are a very important part of the equation.

“We wouldn’t be able to run at all without volunteers,” said Whiteford. “Not a chance.”

The push for a revitalization began about four years ago, with a consulting company out of Victoria being hired to study the museum and come up with a game plan to revamp it.

Since then, work has been completed on the interior of the main building, especially in opening up the front entrance and creating a gift shop.

Old school gym doors were also replaced with new ones, featuring glass with etched designs of the local ecosystem by Bowser artist Paul Crawford.

The chain-link fencing around the site was also replaced, and a post-and-beam portico was built at the main entrance, all of which helped to get away from the “penitentiary” feel that it had, said Waddell. “It was not an inviting place.”

The museum has also worked on improving its relations with larger museums, as well as with the Qualicum First Nation.

The latter effort was pushed ahead by summer student and Qualicum First Nation member Jesse Recalma, said Waddell.

The museum and the Qualicum Nation developed an agreement on returning cultural belongings. Now, if the museum has a piece from a first nation culture, the museum asks what the nation would like to do with the piece – take it back or let the museum display it with the understanding that the band can take it back when it wishes.

The Qualicum Nation helped the museum to refurbish a totem pole carved by Simon Charlie of the Coast Salish Nation in 1966, and which was installed on the museum’s grounds last summer, said Whiteford.

“We’re really happy about our evolving, developing relationship with the Qualicum First Nation,” he said. “It’s a long-term effort to establish trust and respect.”

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