Former bank be­com­ing in­ter­ac­tive mu­seum

Trans­for­ma­tion due to Old Sydney So­ci­ety part­ner­ship with Cape Bre­ton Univer­sity

Cape Breton Post - - Cape Breton - BY HAN­NAH RUDDERHAM news@cb­

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.

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