Museum expansion plans move ahead

Raissa Tetanish
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Use ship model building as part of exhibits, consultant

Museum expansion plans move ahead

Port Greville -

The expansion project at the Age of Sail Heritage Centre is starting to heat up.

During the historical centre's annual general meeting, the consultant for the project, Thomas Young of RMA Tourism, Parrsboro, addressed issues such as attracting and retaining visitors by using an interactive approach.
"The easy thing to do is a static interpretation because it's relatively mainstream," said Young, adding it doesn't take much maintenance versus an interactive interpretation.
An interactive interpretation, he says, "means that there's more participation by visitors, it's more spatially diverse, and there's more activity"
In recent years, the Age of Sail Heritage Centre (under the Greville Bay Shipbuilding Museum Society) has been able to collect and conserve artifacts, while researching and archiving materials.
Now it's time for phase two, says Young - to develop the potential for the Age of Sail Centre to be a huge attraction, as well as expand the exhibits, collections, research space and space for meetings and workshops for the community.
"For a small society and a small museum that isn't on a major traffic route, there are lots of museums in similar locations and they tend to get visitation numbers that are similar to yours. That doesn't mean that you can't get more visitors," Young said adding there are all kinds of examples to be found where small destinations turned into big ones with the right kind of approach.
"It's as much of what you do as where you are and how big you are.
"Interactivity is in everything we look at in terms of museums and the philosophy of museums over the last few years. The key component is engaging the visitor and holding them."
Young brought up the idea of revisiting something that was talked about years ago when the project of expansion was first explored - using traditional methods during construction.
The society wants to expand the heritage centre by using a model of half a ship as the facility. The model would be turned upside down, with one end flat and the other looking like the hull of a ship.
In terms of developing an interpretation, Young says the society needs to explore whether or not they can use traditional methods in the construction.
"Essentially we were talking about building model almost to scale. So we can either use high tech material or traditional material. If we can use traditional methods, then we can have an interpretative development project where we have stages of construction be part of the exhibits," he said.
"Over the period of time, we could have the stages of production of those ship timbers exhibited on site, and it would be a wonderful and animated exhibit."
The interactive displays would give the society a chance to record video or write blogs on the construction, both of which could be placed online for worldwide viewing.
Another idea to attract visitors to the area is to have all the attractions work together to promote them all as a package as opposed to individually.
Museum curator Oralee O'Byrne said the Cumberland County Heritage Network is looking at making "passports" for all county museums that would see information being given on all museums at once.

Organizations: Age of Sail Heritage Centre, Greville Bay Shipbuilding Museum Society, Cumberland County Heritage Network

Geographic location: Port Greville

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