Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Museum funding in limbo

Society may lose cash from Dalnavert closure

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Dalnavert Museum is on Carlton Street.

JOHN WOODS / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS ARCHIVES Enlarge Image

Dalnavert Museum is on Carlton Street. Photo Store

CITY hall signalled Tuesday the Manitoba Historical Society's decision to shut down Dalnavert Museum could cost the society $25,000.

That's the amount the society received last year to run Dalnavert, and is asking for again this year to keep the museum open.

"They didn't indicate there was going to be a complete close-down of Dalnavert House," said William Dowie, chairman of the City of Winnipeg's museum board. The museum board provides funding on behalf of the city to 11 Winnipeg museums.

Dalnavert Museum, one of Winnipeg's finest examples of Queen Anne Revival architecture and a national historic site, was closed two months ago, a move that shocked city councillors and supporters in the heritage community.

In a separate email, Dowie said the museum's future is a major issue for the city.

"Certainly we are concerned because Dalnavert is part of a special group of museums that receive direct grants yearly by way of recommendations to council," Dowie wrote.

At an Oct. 7 meeting with museums that get city money, historical society staff told the board it was considering a temporary closure, not a long-term closure, and it asked for the same grant as a year earlier, Dowie said.

Dowie wrote: "That they closed without consulting us with several months left in the fiscal year; that they did not ask for advice; that they did not lean on their brethren museums for help; these are all concerns of the board. We strive to ensure a vibrant community of heritage. Dalnavert can/should be an important hub for community events in the Broadway downtown area."

Dowie said he will present the board's recommendations on which museums to fund before the city's standing committee on protection and community services Thursday.

He said board staff is talking to society staff to figure out what's going on. "For all we know, they were kept in the dark," he said.

The only thing certain about city funding for Dalnavert is "2014 will now be up in the air," Dowie said.

Dalnavert is the restored 1895 home of Hugh John Macdonald, the son of Canada's first prime minister, John A Macdonald. During his career, the younger Macdonald was premier of Manitoba.

The society closed the doors to the public after Labour Day. It's expected to decide next spring whether it will reopen the house or sell it.

alexandra.paul@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition November 6, 2013 B2

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