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Museum secures funding, plans for the future

Feds $43,000 grant helps out master plan

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By Alison Taylor

The Whistler Museum has secured $43,000 in funding from the federal Cultural Spaces Canada Program which will help cover some of the costs of creating its master plan.

Project manager Kerry Chalmers called the funding a “huge coup” and a sign that there may be support for the museum’s future.

“(It’s) a really positive response from the federal level,” said Chalmers this week. “They’re looking to invest in what Whistler’s doing.”

And, according to museum president Alex Kleinman, Whistler is on the cutting edge once again.

After a year working on the Museum Master Plan, the task force has developed a unique concept, light years away from the traditional museum model.

Faced with some daunting challenges, not the least of which was a cramped space in old trailers overshadowed by the new library building, task force members sought to define what it was that Whistler’s museum should be and what guests and visitors were looking for — ultimately a place that reflects Whistler’s mountain culture and references the outdoor environment and the natural history.

With that in mind the task force is proposing to close the doors to the existing museum, leaving the trailers as a curatorial centre, and take the museum to the village streets in a series of display boxes and kiosks, at least until a permanent home for the museum can be found.

The detailed elements of the Heritage Walk program have not yet been finalized but the possibilities are endless.

The kiosks could display information about key Whistler figures, such as the village’s master planner Eldon Beck and Olympic champion Nancy Greene. They could retell Whistler’s Olympic story, particularly as Lot 1/9 is set to become a medals plaza, or the story of the Valley Trail, of local wildlife such as bears and beavers.

Kleinman used the example of an eight-foot kiosk, partially sunk into the ground with a skier on top and a bear den underneath, showing that special relationship of skiers sliding over sleeping bears every season. The kiosk could even have a web cam of a bear den. Kleinman gets goose bumps imagining the possibilities.

“This is a good intermediate step,” he said. “We can do these things. We can do a number of them before 2010. If they prove to be successful we can keep building on these things.”

The synergies with other programs are there too he said. They can apply for funding for original art rather than heritage funding. They can combine packages with tour operators in the area. Ultimately, it’s a way to capture people’s imagination.

“They’re provided with a reason to keep exploring,” said Kleinman.

The museum task force has also been in discussions with the Whistler Centre for Sustainability and the Whistler Arts Council to lobby for space on Lot 1/9 after the 2010 Games.

The museum’s master plan will be released to council in February.

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