Vancouver’s Maritime Museum could be moving downtown

Apr 14 2018, 3:07 am

Despite its “stellar location” close to English Bay the Vancouver Maritime Museum (VMM) has experienced “major challenges,” according to the VMM’s Executive Director Dr. Joost Schokkenbroek.

Some of these challenges include the museum’s location on a flood plain, a leaky roof, and “bad conditions” for artifact storage.

And while the VMM has searched for alternative spaces in the past, it looks like it will soon have a new home in Coal Harbour.

The proposed new location would be in an area currently being redeveloped by Concord Pacific around the Westin Bayshore Hotel.

Architect Renzo Piano is said to be behind the project.

Piano’s concept “for a new Maritime Museum on the site of the Bayshore Inn in Coal Harbour is a splendid solution for the museum,” Schokkenbroek told Daily Hive.

“We are at the very earliest beginning of a lengthy and very complex process and I believe that at present it is difficult to outline what the moving process will be like.”

One thing is very clear, though, he added. “St. Roch, the National Historic Site, will join us in the move to the new location.”

Asked about the price tag that comes with a relocation of this kind, Schokkenbroek said an exact cost is hard to estimate at this point in time.

“Suffice it to say that people nowadays are supposed to pay $10,000 per square metre, so you can do the math when it comes to a proposed building with a footprint of 8,000 to 8,500 square metres,” he said.

Even with the costs and process involved with a project of this magnitude, Schokkenbroek said he believe the move is a “fantastic opportunity [and] creates a win-win situation” for the parties involved.

“The museum will be enabled to take much better care of its collections; increase its credibility amongst all kinds of varied audiences and peer institutions,” he said. “[It] will be an important addition to the cultural landscape of Vancouver, especially as it seeks to connect with indigenous people and their maritime heritage.”

He also said that in its new location, the museum will “find a much more prominent podium to be of interest to next generations of museum-goers. We need to reach out to younger people and make it a wonderful experience for them to come to our place.”

The VMM has been at its current location for close to 60 years. The St. Roch found its home near dog beach in 1958. The concept envisages the continuation of the work of VMM to educate on the maritime past of the coast and the Arctic, including Indigenous history, while also acting as a centre for education and ecological research regarding the world’s oceans.

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