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Surprise donation spurs shade structure for museum

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A little bit of shade is coming to the Living Prairie Museum.


Later this summer, construction will begin on a new $140,000 outdoor education and shelter workshop at the base of the museum’s 12-hectare tall grass prairie preserve.


The structure is being built at a time when museum surveys have indicated visiting groups wanting a little bit more shade around the museum, especially during lunchtime hours.


"For people with families, if it’s hot and sunny, they don’t think of us as a destination because of the shade. They’ll go to Assiniboine Park, or maybe one of the wading pools in the area," said museum director Kyle Lucyk.


"With all of our kids’ programming, some shade makes (it) more appealing for them to stay a little longer, have a little picnic. That should help us get our mission across of prairie conservation."


The project has been in the works for some time, Lucyk said, and was helped along by a recent surprise donation of $93,000.


The donation was part of an estate left by a U.S. fisheries biologist, who spent time growing up in Winnipeg and building forts in the forest behind the museum.


"That time he spent playing in forest spawned his lifelong appreciation of nature," Lucyk said, noting the museum is in contact with the man’s family.


"When he would come up to go fishing in Canada, he would always stop through Winnipeg."


Designed by local landscape architect Liz Wreford Taylor, the structure will be built using reclaimed steel and Douglas Fir beams. It will be able to seat up to 60 people, giving them a view out onto the prairie.


"It’s very simple. We didn’t want anything too crazy, and we didn’t want to use a bunch of colour or plastic," said Wreford Taylor, who lives in River Heights.


"We wanted something people could identify with that will become a part of the museum and be really valued by the community."


The space will include a small workshop and green roof to help anchor environmental educational programming, such as retrofitting a shed or garage to incorporate a roof or rainwater system for runoff, she said.


This isn’t the first time Wreford Taylor has worked with the museum.


She first started working with the museum while attending the University of Manitoba, even writing her master’s thesis on how tall grass prairie can be incorporated into urban areas.


Wreford Taylor has built an online virtual museum documenting the loss of Manitoba’s tall grass prairie and the museum’s role in its preservation, along with designing interior exhibits for the museum.


She was approached by the museum last fall after stints working in Seattle and Australia.


"I’ve been very excited to come back after being a way for a while and be able to do a project like this," she said.


"I’m familiar with the space and how they run their programs. It wasn’t a big stretch to know what kind of facilities they needed."


To view more plans, visit www.plainprojects.ca.


Facebook.com/TheMetroWPG
Twitter: @metroWPG

matt.preprost@canstarnews.com

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