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Museum in Orillia, Ont., plans expansion after getting federal grant

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ORILLIA, Ont. - After completing $1.1 million in renovations in 2004, the Orillia Museum of Art and History is about to embark on another major project with the help of a $975,000 federal grant announced this month.

The museum plans to add gallery space by expanding into the currently empty second and third floors of the landmark red brick building — originally a post office and customs house constructed in 1892-93 — that it occupies. An elevator will also be added to make the museum accessible for disabled visitors, said Lynda Whiston, director and curator.

The museum's collection includes over 9,000 artifacts focusing on local history, as well as artworks by Arthur Lismer, Franklin Carmichael, Lawren Harris and other Group of Seven members.

A sword that once belonged to "quintessential Canadian Mountie" Sir Sam Steele, whose family settled in the area in the 1830s, is another highlight, said Whiston.

"We're very proud to have that sword in our permanent collection," she said.

The museum, which is featuring a temporary exhibition of textile artworks until January, expects to receive $475,000 from the city of Orillia for the expansion project, Whiston said. The earlier renovations were funded by various levels of government and donations from the community.

On the web: www.orilliamuseum.org

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