PRESS RELEASE – January 12, 2017
The Norfolk Historical Society is ceasing operation of the Eva Brook Donly Museum in Simcoe.
Over the past number of years, the NHS has not been able to generate sufficient revenues to sustain the privately operated museum established in 1942. At a recent meeting of the board of directors, following a consultant’s report and stakeholder input, it was agreed to cease operation of the museum.
Andy Blackwood, president of the NHS, said a restructuring plan calls for an emphasis on its extensive volunteer driven archives as well as its renowned genealogical and family history resources housed in the Eva Brook Donly Museum.
Over the years, the NHS has amassed a collection of personal papers, public documents and artifacts dating back of 1721. Included in the collection are more than 10,000 photographs relating to Norfolk County’s history as well as art by Eva Brook Donly and more than 300 paintings by W. Edgar Cantelon. Much of the collection is of local and national importance.
Even though the museum will not be operating, Blackwood says the NHS will continue with the preservation and stewardship of the collection. “This is our number one priority going forward” he said.
Eva Brook Donly, a local artist, bequeathed her home on Norfolk Street South to the Town of Simcoe in 1941 and the NHS was invited to create a museum and assemble all the relics, paintings and documents that had previously been housed in the Simcoe Public Library and Registry Office. Currently, the building is owned and maintained by Norfolk County and there are three other municipally-funded museums in Norfolk County.
Blackwood said that the operation of the museum, in order to qualify for operating grants and to adhere to government regulations, requires a full-time curator. Responsibility for salaries, programming expenses and maintenance of the collection falls on the NHS which is a registered non-profit organization.
“Unfortunately, we can no longer afford to operate the museum with paid staff,”
The museum and archives are presently closed to allow for re-organization and to train and recruit volunteers for the archives and for the development of a genealogical centre. The NHS will be working closely with Norfolk County staff to reopen the archives as soon as possible.
For more information, or to inquire about becoming a volunteer, contact Blackwood at NHSPres17@gmail.com.