At the end of July, the federal government dumped $2.2 million in the kitty for the new North Vancouver Museum in Lower Lonsdale. This brings the new museum campaign to around $7.5 million of its $10 million fundraising goal; a milestone that must be reached by December 31st, 2015.

If the fundraising goal is reached in time, the new and improved museum and exhibits will take over the Shipyard’s Pipe Shop venue, currently managed as an interim flex and rental space by Quay Property Management.

Don Evans, chairman of the new museum campaign, says now is the time for North Vancouver residents to start getting excited.

“The new museum will be unlike anything you have experienced before, with an imaginative, interactive set of experiences that will be both entertaining and educational for all ages,” he said.

Virtual canoe-paddling games, engaging story-telling journeys and interactive peeks into the lives of North Van’s first settlers does sound pretty neat to be honest: check out the exhibit concept plans here.

But is a huge “pretty neat” interactive historical storytelling venue the best fit for one of the most prime pieces of real estate in Lower Lonsdale?

Remember The Storyeum in Gastown? The $23 million interactive and imaginative trip down memory lane using actors, stages and special effects to showcase Vancouver’s history? The one where organizers and investors anticipated 1 million visitors would take the 70-minute trip down memory lane each year?

It was a complete and colossal flop.

Even with highly subsidized rent of $3/sq ft (local average was $12-15/sq ft at the time) gifted by the City of Vancouver, the Storyeum’s owners accumulated $5 million in debt over just two years. Less than three years after its inception only 200,000 people–1/5 of the projected 1 million–visited the exhibit each year.

With all due respect to the North Vancouver Museum, their fundraising efforts, and the probably pretty neat exhibit planned for the Pipe Shop venue, the prospect of the new museum standing on its own legs financially is bleak.

Which can only mean one thing: The City to the rescue.



A North Van local with a fetish for cheap wine and words. As editor, his job is to make sure that everything posted is useful, entertaining or awesome.

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