Simcoe County planning $18-million museum expansion

Ontario Construction News staff writer

Simcoe County council has approved a plan to build up the heritage and cultural buildings at the Simcoe County Museum in a total estimated $18-million expansion that will include construction of the Matthews Innovation and Transportation Gallery.

The plan also includes upgrades to the existing museum over a seven-year period including improved gallery space and visitor experience, environmentally friendly design with a zero-carbon building, improved security for temporary exhibits, and a more efficient room for meetings and special events.

Utility cost savings are expected from a zero-carbon building and the design includes:

  • Charred timber construction offers opportunities to showcase, interpret, and honour the County of Simcoe’s foresight and innovation in the establishment and century-long operation of county forests.
  • Triple-glazed windows provide an exceptional view to the heritage and display buildings on the grounds, while offering increased insulation as well as UV protection for the benefit of the artifacts on display.
  • Solar panels offset the hydro consumption required to power the addition solely using electricity and provide countless interpretive opportunities to discuss concepts such as innovation, sustainability, environmental impact on our area, both past and present.

Work on all phases is expected to be completed by 2030, in time for the celebration of the Simcoe County Museum’s 100th anniversary. Work on Phase 1 is expected to begin in spring 2024 with an estimated completion in 2026.

Planned over three phases, the expansion will begin with the biggest project – construction of the 5,000-square-foot Matthews Innovation and Transportation Gallery and a 2,300-square-foot space for curatorial functions and collections storage. An additional 2,633-square-foot mezzanine overlooking the new gallery will provide opportunities for additional themed exhibitions as well as interpretive and programming space.

“This exciting project that we are undertaking preserves the past while looking to the future of the Simcoe County Museum,” said Simcoe County Warden Basil Clarke. “This is largely thanks to the generosity of the late Charles Matthews, who saw something special in this museum and the history it showcases.

“We are incredibly grateful for the legacy he has left behind and it is an honour to name the new gallery the Matthews Innovation and Transportation Gallery in his memory.”

The gallery is named in honour of Simcoe County Museum’s largest-ever donor, Charles Matthews, whose bequest of almost $5 million will allow the museum to better display and care for museum collections.


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