Over the past forty years Ontario’s municipal museum has incrementally expanded to fill to the former City Hall, a local landmark built in 1937 to the designs of DeWitt Mitcham. The piecemeal appropriation of spaces has resulted in labyrinthine gallery layouts, scattered support rooms, and collections storage spread everywhere.
The 2019 Master Plan accepts the ad hoc logic of the existing arrangement but resolves its rough spots. By moving most collection storage offsite, space is freed up for phased reconfiguration of the history and art galleries (in the south and north wings, respectively) and the second floor offices. The historical interiors at the center of the first floor are enhanced with exhibit displays and a new welcome desk positioned so visitors can enter from both the north plaza and the central courtyard. The Master Plan also provides a detailed account of current building conditions and recommended preservation measures.
The Master Plan was enthusiastically adopted by the Museum Board and the City Council, which allocated substantial funding for Phase I work. A 2,500 sf climate-controlled enclosure for collections storage was constructed in a city-owned warehouse, allowing two of the history galleries to be renovated for new exhibit and education uses. Spatially intrusive HVAC installations were replaced with efficient systems designed to maintain museum standards for temperature and humidity. Walls were furred out with continuous exhibit partitions incorporating discreet panels at window locations that can be opened for maintenance. An accessible/family restroom was added off the Main Hall and building-wide teledata was upgraded.The Museum is now planning Phase 2 work focused on exterior preservation.