Former bank becoming interactive museum
Transformation due to Old Sydney Society partnership with Cape Breton University
A former BMO building in Sydney is being transformed into an interactive museum through an exhibit called “What Remains,” a joint effort of the Old Sydney Society and Cape Breton University’s biology department.
The Old Sydney Society began in 1966 with a mandate to “protect, preserve and promote the history of Sydney,” especially its built heritage. The non-profit organization now operates the former BMO building on the corner of Charlotte and Dorchester streets as a museum.
“Certainly a project like this could not be done without input from the government and the community,” said Joyce Rankin, executive director of the Old Sydney Society.
A fundraising drive is currently in operation to get assistance from the community. Though admission to the museum is free of charge, the Old Sydney Society also runs other programs that require funding to sustain the organization.
The building is being preserved for its architecture and beauty as well as historical significance. With many displays already completed, the museum is open to the public.
“One of the things Sydney has to offer is the historical details and the historical stories that we can tell,” Rankin said. “That’s what people want to hear. They want to hear what makes a place unique.”
The working part of the museum is the interactive part of it. In the museum’s future, there are hopes for visitors to be able to touch things, ask questions and explore the museum’s technology.
“What Remains” looks at what remains of organisms after their death. There are a variety of displays with bones, fossils, shells and bird’s nests.
“We thought it was important that it was preserved in a way that made it accessible to the public.” Rankin said.
One display takes accessibility to a whole new level by allowing visitors to touch and examine bones of organisms and guess what they are.
Besides the BMO building, the Old Sydney Society also runs St. Patrick’s Church Museum, Cossit House Museum and is involved with Jost Heritage House.
The “What Remains” exhibit is open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday to Friday, at 175 Charlotte Street in Sydney.
“It is really a beautiful building,” Rankin said, “The building itself is kind of an exhibit and then you have the exhibits inside it.”
Abby Demeyere is a summer student at the Old Sydney Society in Sydney. Her favourite part of the “What Remains” exhibit in the former BMO building that is now a museum is the bat skeleton.