Manitoba Historical Society
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MHS Press Release on the Future of Dalnavert Museum

The governing Council of the Manitoba Historical Society, at a meeting on Tuesday evening (17 March 2015), voted to accept the transfer of ownership and management of the Dalnavert Museum to a newly incorporating group, the Friends of Dalnavert Museum, effective April 1, 2015.

The Friends of Dalnavert Museum, a group of museum professionals and heritage advocates, have been working since late 2013 to negotiate for the future of the Dalnavert Museum. Their goal, if all goes according to plan, is to reopen the Museum to the public in time for the Doors Open Winnipeg weekend of May 30-31, and then remain open year round. Much still needs setting into motion to meet this target.

Harry Duckworth, President of the Manitoba Historical Society said, “This is the best solution to guarantee that Dalnavert will continue as a Museum and heritage property. The Society has owned and managed Dalnavert for over 40 years, and is very proud of it, but we have many different responsibilities. It’s time for a specific group to take over, whose one focus is running Dalnavert.”

Adèle Hempel, Interim Chair of the Friends of Dalnavert Museum, said, “The Friends are very pleased with Council’s acceptance of the negotiated terms of the motion put to them. This is a vote of confidence in our vision for the Museum and the collective expertise we bring, and a major step to seeing the Museum’s doors reopen soon. I especially thank our future funders, donors, as well as citizens and volunteers who have stepped forward to support our efforts, as well as the Society’s negotiators with whom we have been working cooperatively for the last seven months.”

Commenting on behalf of the City of Winnipeg Museums Board, co-chair Christian Robin said: “It will be great to see the Museum reopened with new leadership. We look forward to being a part of the Museum’s future and to seeing Dalnavert contributing once again to our city’s unique and impressive museum landscape.”

Dalnavert, located at 61 Carlton Street, was built in 1895 as the family home of Sir Hugh John Macdonald. The son of Canada’s first prime minister, he was one of Winnipeg’s leading citizens during the city’s heyday as the economic powerhouse of the Canadian West. The house is a fine example of the Queen Anne Revival style. It has been recognized as a heritage landmark by all three levels of government. It has the designation of a National Historic Site by the Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada.

The Manitoba Historical Society bought the house in 1970, when it was about to meet the fate of most other houses in the neighbourhood – demolition to make room for an apartment block. The Society raised the money to restore it to its original state, and furnished it in a style appropriate to the period. Since 1974 the Society has run Dalnavert as a Museum. A Visitors’ Centre, with offices, an auditorium, and a gift shop, was added to the property in 2005.

Due to operational concerns, the Museum was closed in September 2013, and since then the Society has been working to find a way to open it again. With the agreement with the Friends, and the resources they will bring, an answer has been found.



Page revised: 3 June 2015

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