Artists and residents who have been lobbying for additional exhibition space in Burns Lake will get their wish next month when the Lakes District Museum Society opens the area’s first public art gallery.
The museum society recently digitized its archives, allowing it to relocate all hard-copy documentary heritage resources to a secure storage area. The project, which took 10 months, freed up an entire room on the museum’s main floor.
“Originally, we planned to use the space for additional museum exhibits,” said Russ Skillen, president of the museum society, “but after seeing the area without its bulky furniture, 70 years of bound newspapers, and more than three dozen binders of photographs, we realized it would be the perfect location for a small but intimate art gallery.”
Museum society staff and volunteers gave the room a fresh coat of paint and purchased a state of the art picture hanging system with financial assistance from the Regional District of Bulkley-Nechako’s arts and culture fund. The rail hanging system will allow artists to meet their compositional goals without damaging the room’s wall surfaces.
“The gallery project is designed to increase use of the museum while supporting arts and culture in the community,” explained Skillen. “Art galleries and museums work well together, and we’re pleased to bring this synergy to the Lakes District.”
The retrofit will be complete later this month, after which the museum society will issue an open Call for Exhibition Proposals from local and regional artists. Local proposals will be given priority, but the facility will be available to any artist who purchases a $10 membership in the museum society. “We think that’s a small price to pay for getting access to good exhibition space,” noted Skillen.
“This is an exciting opportunity for artists and society members,” Skillen added. “If everything goes according to plan, we’ll open our first exhibition in July.”
The Lakes District Museum Society was established in 1978 to gather, preserve, and exhibit items of educational, historical, and cultural value to the Lakes District. Its museum at 520 Highway 16 contains thousands of relics donated by the area’s pioneers and their descendants.