REGINA – From a film reel used in the old Capitol Theatre to the first automated teller machine in Canada, the Civic Museum of Regina is home to thousands of artifacts from the city’s past.
But without significant financial help from the city, the former Regina Plains Museum will be closing its doors on August 31 and dissolving its nearly 20,000 pieces of Regina history by the end of the year.
“The museum has been underfunded for two decades,” said museum president Rob Deglau. “We don’t even have the dollars to do proper marketing to let citizens know there is a civic museum.”
Deglau says the museum receives about $115,000 per year in operating funding, but “the reality is that only covers our (building)” before programming and staff costs.
He compares museums in Moose Jaw and Swift Current, “which get around $250,000 to $300,000.”
The Civic Museum’s board of directors will make a last-ditch plea for funding at the Community and Protective Services Committee meeting on September 9.
Roughly ten groups of people go through the museum’s doors each day at its location on Broad St. and 7th Avenue, which Deglau says is an big improvement from the old location downtown. He hopes the committee would consider a third-party study to “look at what a museum should really be.”
“We’re that touchstone for everybody that’s ever travelled through the province.”
“People are coming from all over the world to live in Regina and one of the first things they do is go to the local museum to ask, ‘What’s this city about?’ ” Deglau said. “We’re that touchstone for everybody that’s ever travelled through the province.”
City manager Glen Davies responded Friday to the museum’s pending closure, saying he was “caught off guard” because city staff have been working with board members to help form a business strategy.
“It’s not about making a profit, it’s about better understanding what the model looks like and what the sustainability could be with more funding” Davies said.
The city has provided about $100,000 in annual funding for more than a decade, but that total went up about 15 per cent over the last few years, according to Davies.
Hours have already been cut back at the Civic Museum of Regina, which is expected to close to the public on August 31. Derek Putz / Global News
Hours have already been cut back at the Civic Museum of Regina, which is expected to close to the public on August 31.
Derek Putz / Global News
While the museum is independent and not a City of Regina department, he recognized the service it provides to the community.
“It’s not a core business of the city, but if a case can be made about sustainability going forward … (city council) will give proper consideration to that,” Davies said.
Deglau hopes it won’t come down to giving artifacts away to other museums and non-profits – or being forced to destroy them for legal reasons. Donated items resulted in tax receipts, so they can’t simply be “given away” to someone who could profit from them later.
He says it’s up to the city to help preserve more than a century worth of Regina history.
“They’re the ones that are going to decide if this is something they want, or is it something they don’t?”