As the Huron County Museum prepares to undergo renovations to its Industry Gallery, Senior Curator Elizabeth French-Gibson shares details about this exciting new project.

When you are visiting the Huron County Museum over the coming months, you will certainly see some changes to our exhibit spaces. We are excited about these changes and we hope you will be too! While we always strive to present a variety of Huron County stories in our temporary exhibit galleries each year, these changes are coming to our permanent exhibit spaces.

Beginning in 2019, the Museum’s Strategic Plan included a strategic direction to create dynamic exhibits that generate interest and attention. Hopefully you have already noticed some additions and changes to text panels, further graphics, updated colours, and display changes.

Throughout 2021 and 2022, staff have been in the process of planning a major redevelopment of one of our exhibition spaces, the Northwest/Industry Gallery, to better reflect the stories of industry from across Huron County.  This exhibit space is currently located on the upper floor of the old schoolhouse portion of the Museum. Some of you may remember that this is the exhibit gallery that was focused primarily on salt mining and the Great Storm of 1913.  It’s time for new and more diverse stories to be included in the space.

And these changes have started! The Northwest Gallery is currently closed to the public and is in the process of being fully dismantled. Construction work will begin in early December with the walls, ceiling, electrical, and flooring being completely refurbished. This work is expected to be completed in early 2023. Museum staff will then carry out the installation of a full new exhibit focusing on industries from across Huron County.

The “Big Idea” for the exhibit gallery will be “Places and Processes of Transformation!” The exhibit will focus on how the dynamic nature of industry has transformed Huron County and its people in many ways.

The final proposed interpretive plan for the proposed Industry Exhibit Gallery includes the following topics with thematic areas including clusters of 3D and 2D spaces, exhibits and activity sections:

  • The Lake and Harbour Industries – depicting human and environmental changes brought on by industry at Lake Huron.
  • Salt – depicting impact of Salt Industries in Huron County.
  • Natural Resources, Food and Drink – representing different relationships between Huron Industry and the natural environment
  • Industrial Diversity – showcasing the number and different types of industry in Huron County.
Illustration of the proposed redesign of the Museum's Industry Gallery

We have lots of planning left to do but the space design is complete, as shown in the illustration above, and work continues on the details that will go into the overall interpretive plan. So many industries, artifacts and photographs to choose from!

Artifacts and stories that were removed from the Gallery during the first stages of this redevelopment will be on display in the gallery across the hall upstairs to give visitors a final look at these stories over the coming months. During this time, staff will also be working on plans for rehousing these artifacts. They have had their time on display and will be moved to our main storage area for a well-deserved rest. While these stories were enjoyed by many visitors in the past, the new exhibit will provide a more diverse, county-wide story of our industrial history.

If you would like to be part of this exciting redevelopment and diversification, we encourage you to donate to this project. Your support will be allocated to our exhibitions and will enable the Museum to tell these expanded stories through a variety of interpretive methods in this space. Completing this project is an exciting next step for the Museum.

Donations can be made at the Huron County Museum during our regular business hours by cash, cheque or credit card.   More information on sponsorship opportunities can be found on the Museum’s website.  This Giving Tuesday, Nov. 29, the Museum’s Senior Curator would be happy to show you the work so far and how your donation will help.