Although a bottle christening is in order, that smashing fanfare might prove excessive for the replica vessels of the Maritime Museum of BC.
The dozen or so replica exhibits of the museum have found a new home for viewing and event hosting at 744 Douglas St. It will be open to the public as of Friday, Sept. 3, after six weeks of moving efforts from their previous location on Humboldt Street around the block.
The museum will host a grand opening Sept. 9 adherent to COVID restrictions, said museum executive director Brittany Vis. It’s also their anticipated date to reach a fundraising goal of $50,000 required to establish the new space.
The All Hands on Deck! campaign has raised about $21,000 since launching last week, Vis said, following a few major gifts from individuals. “There’s some really great community support out there.”
The museum’s current feature exhibit, SS Valencia: A Theatre of Horror, was brought over from the museum’s previous location and has been extended until the end of October. It tells the tale of the passenger and mail vessel sailing from San Fransico that crashed off the coast of Vancouver Island at Pachena Point in 1906.
“One of the worst maritime disasters in an area along Vancouver Island’s west side known as ‘the graveyard of the pacific,’” is how museum literature describes the sinking.
“Her last stop would have been here in Victoria,” Vis said. “But it was January and a classic shipwreck story. There was a storm and it was night.” The full story of the ship, its cast of characters and its 40-hour ultimate ordeal is available at the museum.
Museum patrons can also rent the new space for events, Vis said. During a regular season, the combined display and presentation spaces could hold as many as 50 people for a standard cocktail, coffee or tea party, she said. Those interested can email the museum at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The museum’s new location, attached to the Victoria Conference Centre, is operated by the City of Victoria. “It’s a stable space, but it is still a temporary space while we work on a larger and more permanent home,” Vis said. Their ideal location is in the Steamship Terminal building adjacent to the Inner Harbour, but COVID has put roadblocks towards that end, she said.
“There’s been a lot of ups and downs” for the museum, Vis said. In the last fiscal year, revenue was down 95 per cent.
“COVID has definitely impacted our admission significantly” she said, since it reopened with restrictions in July 2020. “But this summer, we started seeing an upward trend, so we’re excited about that. We’re hopeful that come fall, as things open, we can see more people come in again.”
Find more information about the museum at mmbc.bc.ca.
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