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Polish museum gets funding for revamp

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A Winnipeg museum devoted to preserving Polish culture is finally going to be able to undertake some much-needed repairs.

The Ogniwo Polish Museum at 1417 Main Street has been selected to received $12,300 from the federal government’s Community Infrastructure Improvement Fund.

Joy Smith, MP for Kildonan-St. Paul, made the announcement at the museum Nov. 13. The funding will make possible a number of much-needed improvements to the building itself, including upgrades to the heating and cooling system, new insulation and renovations to the flooring.

The museum was founded by the Polish Canadian Women’s Federation Branch No. 7 in the early 1980s. Its operations were transferred to the museum society’s hands after the branch disbanded. The society now owns the building, and its leaders say the upgrades are long overdue.

Museum president Christine Tabbernor said the new heating and cooling systems aren’t just about making guests comfortable. Having a greater degree of temperature control means the artifacts in the building can be better preserved, she said.

"You want to have better temperature and humidity control, so there’s less of an issue with dust," Tabbernor said.

The new equipment will be energy efficient, not just for the environment’s sake but to also help lower utility costs. Some environmental monitoring the museum undertook also identified the building’s crawlspace as a huge problem area,and part of the funds will be used to correct that.

"It’s not been insulated, and it doesn’t have any vapour-proofing... That crawlspace will be insulated, it will have vapour barriers put down, and it will help minimize issues with humidity, with mould, all the things harmful to artifacts and exhibits. So that to me is a tremendous relief," Tabbernor said.

Museum officials plan to have the facility’s old, worn carpeting removed and resurface the original hardwood flooring. The result will provide the museum with a clean, professional look that will reduce dust in the gallery.

"It’s not been laid well, and because of the unevenness of the underlying floor, it’s given us a lot of grief," Tabbernor said of the carpet.

"For the historical preservation of the building, we’d like to go back to the original flooring. "

Tabbernor explained the CIIF grant provides only 50% of the project’s cost, and the museum will have to make up the difference through private donations and other sources of revenue.
Smith said the museum has never received much funding and emphasized the need for it to continue operating.

"This museum is very important, for it to be in Manitoba, because we have a large Polish population who’ve contributed immensely to the Manitoba and Canadian cultural mosaic," Smith said.

"It’s very important they have their museum which reflects the rich Polish ethnic culture."
Tabbernor said the new furnace will be installed very soon, with work expected to begin this week. All of the work, is expected to be finished by next March.

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