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Construction is Booming at Pier 21

It all started with a thumbs-up from the government and Canadian Heritage → giant pile of paperwork → team of amazing people → reviews and revisions by those people of said paperwork ← then → additional stacks of paper → jug of coffee → tender process → more coffee → amazing submissions from other amazing people → contract award → BANG!

We have construction.

This may be déjà-vù as it wasn’t too long ago that the Museum was under construction for the first half of our capital expansion project. You might remember (or now you’ll soon read) my previous blog about the renovations the Museum made a couple of years ago to our heating and ventilation system as well as an expansion of administrative offices and collection storage room. Well folks, we’re at it again. We’re finishing up our two-part capital expansion project with the final piece of the expansion (and the one most exciting for your eyes to see) – drumroll please – our new Canadian Immigration Story Exhibition, updated Rudolph P. Bratty Exhibition and sparkling Kenneth C. Rowe Hall and Chrysler Canada Pavilion! After years of research, planning, and caffeine, the Museum team has put together (with an extraordinary group of consultants, external researchers, designers, fabricators, architects and builders) the updated and brand-new exhibitions and rental spaces! Opening in May 2015, guests will get to listen, learn and engage with first-person immigration accounts and the immigration experience to Canada. The same guests could make a night out of their visit by celebrating all that they’ve learned hosting an event in one of the updated spaces. Food, drink, and learning! My favorites.

Can I get a “whoop whoop”?!

Before we start celebrating, we must start with loud noises and a lot of work.

With contractors now onsite, the Museum and event spaces are a blur of bodies, equipment and safety gear. Some of our Museum staffers have vacated the premises (no fear, they’re not far and working feverously across the street in the administrative building) so that the men and women onsite can construct, build and renovate safely and efficiently. Lucky for me (and you), I have top secret access and will be sharing information about the build on this blog! Ok, I really just have the proper safety equipment and have asked super nicely to be permitted in the space when it is safe to do so but still! I will be bringing you sneak peeks of the action as it happens. Who thought museums could be this exciting?!

The first order of business: the “Then” photographs. Here are a couple of my current favorite spaces. In a few months’ time, we will compare the photos with updated ones to see the changes that have happened.

Large hall with two Canadian flags hanging over several rows of wooden benches and a desk with the word Immigration written on it.

Rudolph P. Bratty Hall

Rudolph P. Bratty Hall currently houses our Pier 21 story exhibition. In May 2015, the space will continue to share the Pier 21 story but the exhibits will be updated and revamped. In this photo, you will notice the Pier 21 model in the foreground. This exhibit is being refurbished and will engage visitors with the space even more with the addition of tablet technology. The Immigration Desk is also getting a facelift and will continue to be a central feature in the gallery for programming and photo opportunities. Have you taken your picture at the Immigration Desk? Share your experience with us!

Large reception room with several nicely decorated tables and chairs and flags from around the world hanging from above.

Kenneth C. Rowe Hall

Kenneth C. Rowe Hall is our famous event space. The Museum has hosted banquets, speaker series’, dances and even a rock n’ roll band or two here. Over the next few months, it will be converting to the new Canadian Immigration Story Exhibition and will feature immigration stories from first contact to today. Kenneth C. Rowe Hall as an event space is moving just south of the current location (or straight ahead in this photo) to a newly built space still under the Museum’s control. The room configuration is very similar to what you see today but will include a modified stage, accessible ramp, feature lighting, sound buffering and updated colours.

I’m looking forward to sharing the next round of images and a few stories of the project start-up. Until then, keep checking back for additional blogs from our staff as we build up the excitement for our grand re-opening in May 2015! (See what I did there, “build”?!)