LETTER: Volunteer Neil Carleton on Mill of Kintail

Sally McIntyre
General Manager
Mississippi Valley Conservation Authority

Dear Ms McIntyre,

BILL 108 FORCES MVCA TO EXAMINE NON-CORE PROGRAM

I read with dismay both the August 27 posting and the staff report. Many MVCA and Mill of Kintail supporters like me oppose such a premature response.

SUPPORTING THE JEWEL

Although the Museum is referred to as the ‘jewel of our portfolio’, it sure looks like the Board is being prepared for the disposal of the McKenzie and Naismith collections to other museums, galleries, organizations, and collectors.

Missing as the 1st step is a letter from the Board to the Premier and Minister championing the continuance of MVCA’s management of these internationally significant collections in trust for the people of Canada. Of importance to the letter would be:

BLACK CREEK PIONEER VILLAGE DECISION

As reported by the Toronto Star on August 24, Premier Doug Ford confirmed that Black Creek Pioneer Village will continue to operate, but other programs and services run by the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority remain at risk of being shut down.

This a wonderful opportunity for the Board to also address in its letter the same kind of exemption for the Mill of Kintail’s renowned Museum and collections.  A request for a follow-up presentation with the Premier and/or Minister would be a good procedural next step.

NO COLLECTIONS = NO MUSEUM = NO GRANTS

Of particular importance to the upcoming decision of the MVCA’s Board of Directors are two criteria that enable the Museum at the Mill of Kintail Conservation Area to apply for a provincial operating grant.

  1. It’s an institution established for the purpose of acquiring, conserving, studying, interpreting, assembling and exhibiting to the public for its instruction and enjoyment a COLLECTION of artifacts of historical interest; and
  2. It is not established primarily for the purpose of conducting temporary exhibitions.

Should the disposal of the McKenzie and Naismith collections proceed, and/or should the Mill of Kintail be transitioned in some way as a venue for temporary exhibitions about sustainable resource management, there will no longer be a ‘museum’ on-site that qualifies for provincial operating grants.

TRANSITION COST

Missing, but essential for the Board’s consideration of options, is the:

  1. legal cost of transferring ownership of the McKenzie and Naismith collections;
  2.  cost of packing + transportation + storage + insurance of the Museum’s remarkable collections (from fragile documents, plaster casts, and fine art to massive sculptures) until such time as their ownership is transferred;
  3. cost of insuring/returning loan collections to the University of Pennsylvania, McGill University, etc.
  4. transitioning/upgrading cost of the Mill of Kintail’s display spaces for temporary exhibitions;
  5. cost of co-producing / co-hosting / shipping temporary exhibitions;
  6. costs of a court challenge.

These expenses, which could easily exceed the Museum’s current operating budget for years to come, would include contracted professional services, staff participation, MVCA supplies and equipment, etc.

COMMUNITY SUPPORT

The community of support for the Museum at the Mill of Kintail includes local, national, and international visitors, along with donors and researchers from near and far.  Countless local volunteers over nearly 50 years have made remarkable contributions to its success.  The response to the province’s cut in CA funding, and the MVCA’s subsequent posting, is a growing groundswell of well-justified concern.

I hope that my comments today will be of assistance in resolving the dilemma of the Museum’s future.

Sincerely,

Neil Carleton
Mill of Kintail Volunteer
Almonte, Ontario