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Museum society expands art gallery, cultural programming

The new program was possible because the society signed a rental agreement
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The Lakes District Museum Society is extending its operations to the Heritage Room at 540 Highway 16 West. (Saddman Zaman photo/Lakes District News)

There will be more things to see and do in Burns Lake this year courtesy of one of the area’s oldest non-profit societies.

The Lakes District Museum Society is extending its operations to the Heritage Room at 540 Highway 16 West. Society representatives said last week they expect the 736-square-foot facility will host several arts and culture initiatives this year.

While the schedule of events has not been finalized, society representatives say they plan to use the Heritage Room for art shows, traveling history displays, workshops, and other initiatives consistent with their mandate to gather, preserve, and exhibit items of educational, historical, and cultural value to the Lakes District.

The new program was possible because the society signed a rental agreement with the facility’s owner, the Village of Burns Lake, earlier this spring.

“The Heritage Room is an exceptional space that will fit very well with what we want to offer with our arts and culture programming,” says Cameron Hart, vice-president of the museum society. “We have done a lot to increase the value and variety of what we have on display over the past several years, so much so that we have outgrown our building. By working with the village, we will be able to use the Heritage Room to highlight a whole new array of local art and history.”

“We are excited to welcome the Lake District Museum Society as the new long-term tenant in the Heritage Room,” Mayor Henry Wiebe said last week. “The society has an excellent vision on ways to add value to the museum, the visitors to our community, and the community itself by using this as a tool to promote our local history, arts, and culture. Visit us at the Visitor Information Centre and tour the new display opening this spring.”

While the Heritage Room won’t reopen for a month or two, Michael Riis-Christianson, Lakes District Museum curator said that having access to the space creates new and exciting opportunities. His first task, though, will be moving the museum’s art gallery.

“We established a 144-square-foot gallery in our main building almost four years ago,” he noted. “Since then, we’ve exhibited the works of more than two dozen local and regional artists, but it’s too small to host large shows. We intend to move the gallery to the Heritage Room and expand our exhibition schedule, giving artists more opportunities to show their work to residents and visitors. We also hope to periodically bring in art instructors for workshops.”

The Heritage Room at 540 Highway 16 West is part of a building complex originally owned by the provincial government. Built in the 1940s as a warehouse for the BC Forest Service, it was bought by the municipality in the mid-1980s and refurbished with $272,000 from the Expo 86 Legacy Fund.

Although the facility has been used for a variety of purposes over the years, the people who championed its purchase and renovation almost 40 years ago had a specific plan for it.

“The Burns Lake & District Arts Council was one of the project’s champions,” Riis-Christianson noted. “Its members thought the Heritage Room should be repurposed as an arts centre. Our society intends to stay true to that original vision.”

Individuals and organizations wanting more information about plans for the Heritage Room should contact the museum society by telephone at 250-692-7450 or email at ldmuseumsociety@gmail.com.



About the Author: Saddman Zaman

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