Monday, April 15, 2024

Town of Aurora Museum Future Locations Proposed

Since ‘museum’ is a recent buzzword in the town news, and nobody really talks about where and what, I have decided to throw some ideas on the table here.

For 13 years, I was planning to visit our museum in Aurora. Well, surprise surprise – we don’t have one anymore. I guess that’s what happens if you plan your trip for too long – there will be no trip, as for now there is no trip to the museum.

Since ‘museum’ is a recent buzzword in the town news, and nobody really talks about where and what, I have decided to throw some ideas on the table here.

First collecting some information.

For Councillor Evelyn Buck, one of her commitments is bring a museum back to Aurora. Noting that the Aurora Historical Society has asked for additional funds for a curator, she said that she was intent on that being met.”– a quote from the newspaper article ‘Budget drops again’, THE AURORAN, Week of March 29, 2011, Vol. 11 No. 22, pg 1, 12.

The York Region District School Board is going ahead with plans to put the Wells Street School site in downtown Aurora up for sale, while extending the Town’s deadline to make an offer of “fair market value” until June as requested.‘” – a quote from the newspaper article ‘Want to buy a school?’, THE AURORAN, Week of March 29, 2011, Vol. 11 No. 22, pg 1, 12.

The Aurora Historical Society was founded in 1963 and is run by a dedicated number of volunteers. The society has worked tirelessly for the last 47 years to support and preserve the history of Aurora through its operation of Hillary House National Historic Site, the Koffler Museum of Medicine, and the Aurora Collection. The AHS played a major role in restoring the Church Street School (Aurora Cultural Centre) which is now where the Aurora Collection is stored. The vast artifact and archival collection includes over 8,000 items as well as a rare book and reference library.‘ – a long quote from the newsletter ‘The Aurora Historical Society – Profile’”, Aurora Cultural Centre Highlights, Winter 2011, pg 6.

Aurora Cultural Centre

The above items give me a good start here. I don’t know how the Museum changed hands with the Aurora Cultural Centre (better explained by Evelyn Buck); however, as Evelyn Buck is determined to find a new home for the Aurora Museum, I thought that I will be determined here to throw some ideas on the table. Excuse me if they are repeats, because I am sure that a lot of ideas were probably already thrown around the table somewhere.

As my thinking process goes, here are some keywords or buzzwords in the recent news – Wells Street School for sale, Petch House – don’t know what to do house, Aurora Library needs funding, future Town of Aurora hall renovations, Aurora Cultural Centre – blooming.

Now that I brainstormed, here are my suggestions for the new Aurora Museum location(s):

Aha, Wells Street School for sale. 8,000 artifacts seem a lot plus rare book and reference library. Why not buy this place, and set up the museum in the Wells Street School. It is already a historic site.

Aha number two – we don’t know what to do with Petch log house? Well, why not make this a new place for Aurora’s Museum, it is after all a historic place.

Personally, this one is my favourite. Why not set up exhibits around Aurora. That is, if the Town of Aurora hall is going to be renovated (supposedly), why not make a provision for display cases for some of the 8,000 artifacts. Add some display cases in the Cultural Centre. The rare book and reference library move to Aurora Library and have some artifacts placed there too. This option gives the greatest visibility and access to the archives for those interested, and for those who are not but will be when visiting town hall or library.

Aurora Cultural Centre

Everything costs money. I don’t think that finding a place is only the Councillor’s job. The Historical Society should lay out some proposals. All you have to do is pick a place, do a cost analysis, that is the cost of the proposed property, cost of the move, cost of materials, cost of restoration, cost of future maintenance, etc.

I think this should be an easy project to do. Give a few alternatives, I am sure quotes are free from those who want the job. After all, I don’t think I should be the one here telling everyone what to do. The bottom line is that we need the Aurora Museum back so I can finally complete my planned trip.

So here is my take on the next location for the Museum, and what is yours?

Extract from Evelyn Buck’s post: “Museum?? … Culture Centre??

The intention when funds were provided from the Hydro reserve fund was for both to happen at the Church Street School.

It was decided forty years ago the building would be saved. Even before the last $2.6 million contract. Several million dollars had been spent just to keep it standing.

The museum has not been in place for a number of years. The collection was stashed in boxes waiting to come back to its rightful place.

The museum was a well used program by schools. Families donated precious artifacts knowing they would be treasured and cared for and used for enlightenment about the community’s history.

$750K were raised by the fifty-nine member Historical Society to restore the building. Generous donations are always a sure sign of community support.

The town has provided a $50K grant to the Historical Society for at least thirty years to help provide a curator for the museum. In turn, heritage research services were provided to the planning department and a summer camp program augmented the leisure service department’s summer and special events programs.

Between the town and the historical society, the community was well served at reasonable expense with invaluable volunteer support.

Funds from the hydro reserve fund seemed a good use of part of that asset. A fine facility was planned which would undoubtedly be appreciated in the community operated by volunteers at minimal cost with financial support towards the salary of a curator.

Cultural events were also envisioned in the building. I certainly never envisioned taxing property-owners to pay for them.

It seemed to me the agreement with the Historical Society was the best kind of co-operation with the town to enrich the community with the finer things without incurring a tax burden.

Something went wrong. It doesn’t matter how. What matters now is we get things back on the right track.

If the Historical Society doesn’t want to follow through with their original commitment, I’m sure there are enough Friends of the Museum in Aurora, prepared to take up the cause. I would certainly be receptive to any organization willing to step up to the plate.

No-one should expect I won’t be ready to fight for the museum collection to be where it was intended; in a controlled environment, on display at the Church Street School for the continuous enlightenment, enjoyment and appreciation of people fortunate enough to be to-days residents of a fine little town of Victorian vintage which acquires ever greater antiquity as years go by.

Don’t tell me a community’s history is not relevant to its culture.

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