CEO of THEMUSEUM Plans for Massive Expansion

David Marskell, CEO of THEMUSEUM, is looking ahead to the future of “what dreams may come” for the expansion of THEMUSEUM and wants to know what members of the Kitchener-Waterloo community have to say about it. 

Last month, The Bank of Montreal donated one million dollars along with a sole purchaser agreement that would allow THEMUSEUM fundraising time to raise another two million to buy the bank’s branch right next door. Marskell has plans to then turn it into something … well, something cool.  

“We want to continue to do what we are known for,” Marskell said. “But we don’t know exactly what else we should be doing and want to get that from the public.” 

Working with an independent fundraising company, THEMUSEUM is already one year into the consultation process with potential funders and has also started meeting with the universities and Conestoga College to see what could be on their mind for the new development. 

“But we have no agenda,” Marskell said. “We want to collect those conversations and talk to the universities to see what strategies they might want to put on stage here, and then come back in the fall knowing how much we can raise. That will determine how big we can go, and then away we go.”

The two buildings are not physically connected, making the construction challenging. Ideally, they would tear down the existing structure and build from the ground up. 

“I believe that we can get to something that doubles us in size and at least as tall as [THEMUSEUM] is with a rooftop terrace and something that can connect certain levels from this building to that building,” he said. 

But of course, any ideas of grandeur are dependent upon money.

“Worse thing that can happen is somebody looking back in 20 years says: why didn’t they build it bigger? [sic]”

They’ve been working with architect Laird Robinson from Neo Architecture, who helped them do a space analysis several years ago. Robinson pointed out four important future goals to keep them sustainable: 12-14,000 continuous square feet of grade A exhibition space (quality room temperature controlled for big shows and exhibitions), a permanent family experience (something for everyone), a dedicated theatre that won’t have to compete with noise issues (and could also function as rehearsal space, concerts, film showings, assorted theatre, guest speakers, etc.), and lastly, an enhanced food and beverage and merchandising area. 

“B@THEMUSEUM could be something totally different in the future – with a patio on the rooftop?” 

Marskell seemed to be dreaming out loud as we discussed the potential. “Who knows what that could become?” he said. 

The dedicated theatre space is something the burgeoning DIY music community might be interested in, as well.

“I would love for us to allow for rehearsal space, maybe even live rehearsal in front of others?” he said. 

Another dream, another idea. 

“The potential benefits will allow us to do the free stuff. It goes beyond THEMUSEUM, it’s a great opportunity for many arts and culture groups.”

Marskell said he’s contacted the Region to get a list of artists to consult with, but in terms of the universities and colleges, who gets to be heard?

 “I am able to talk fairly high up with the universities – at the professor level and some of the deans as well – but the student one, I’m not sure how to do that forum,” he said.  

Referring to the students as “culture craving urbanites” that the LRT will soon be able to shuttle back and forth, Marskell emphasized that what they do with the newly acquired space must be a collaborative effort. 

“I’d like to talk to the students. I have to figure out the best forum for that,” he said.