Aylmer-Malahide Museum and Archives approached Aylmer council with a proposal to move the museum downtown into the Steen building on Talbot Street, giving it a more central location and more space for its collection and activities.
The museum said it would be responsible for fundraising to restore the exterior of the building in a historical manner and renovate the interior for display, storage and programming space.
The proposal included requests for the town to transfer ownership of the building to the museum and for an agreement to waive the property taxes as done with the current building on East Street.
Councillors listened to a presentation by Kathy Vandermeer on behalf of the museum during a virtual meeting on Monday, April 19, but did not take any action on the matter.
“The current building is too small,” explained Ms. Vandermeer. “It was too small back in 2011 when I started, and we just don’t have room to grow here. So the board of directors has been looking for a new location for a very long time.”
The Steen building has about 1,500 square foot per floor, with two floors and a basement. It last operated as Aylmer Dollar Plus Convenience store before being left vacant for many years.
Ms. Vandermeer said it was the “perfect location” for the new museum, as it’s centrally located in the downtown core.
“It’s got a much higher visibility than where we are now, which will attract more visitors to the museum, as well as to the downtown core,” said Ms. Vandermeer.
If approved, the museum would raise the required funds to completely restore the building’s exterior.
The building’s interior would feature exhibit space on the main floor, and a meeting room to be used for educational programming, local groups, and private meetings.
The second floor would consist of offices and small artifact storage, and the basement would be used for large-item storage. The main floor would meet accessibility standards.
Other benefits listed included more than double the exhibit and storage space of the current location, available parking space behind the building, and the option of adding a 1,000 square foot addition off the back of the building.
Councillor Tom Charlton said it was a “very ambitious plan,” and a well-done presentation.
Cr. Jamie Chapman asked whether Ms. Vandermeer had approached Malahide township with the same proposal.
“No, I’ve not approached Malahide because the building in question is within town limits. So I wasn’t sure if Malahide would have a say in the matter,” said Ms. Vandermeer, adding she would approach Malahide council if that were needed.
Veronica Reiner, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Aylmer Express