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It was a gala event worthy of the great actress - 100 people attended the grand opening today of the new museum at Dressler House. With the help of Government grants - both Federal and Provincial - and many sponsors, the $125,000 was raised and the museum re-built on schedule. Although Dressler House is owned by the town and currently houses Tourism and Economic Development offices, the Museum room is the responsibility of the Marie Dressler Foundation. At the opening event were the Mayor Gil Brocanier, Deputy Mayor John Henderson, Councillors Forrest Rowden and Debra McCarthy, representatives from supporters (Rotary, Cameco, Trillium and the University of Toronto) as well as representatives of the Federal and Provincial Governments. Featured was a 1930 Cadillac as Marie may have used when she won her Academy Award and attendees got free cake and icecream. Town crier Mandy Robinson opened the ceremonies and Russ Donaldson was the M.C.

As well as speeches by representatives of the M.P. and M.P.P, a letter was read out from the Federal Minister of Canadian Heritage, Melanie Joly - download pdf here.

Providing some on-air publicity was an on-site broadcast by Northumberland 89.7 FM.

The Marie Dressler Foundation exists to promote the memory of Marie Dressler but also awards bursaries to High School students and produces the Vintage Film Festival which is held this year at Port Hope's Capitol theatre on 14, 15 & 16 October. Details here. (The Capitol's Antonio Sarmiento was also at today's festivities.) The Foundation was originally created to restore Dressler house after a disastrous fire in January 1989. More on Marie Dressler and the history of the House here.

Here are some photos of the opening:

  Marie Dressler Museum opening Sept 2016 01 350 89.7 on-site

Marie Dressler Museum opening Sept 2016 Marie Dressler Museum opening - free cake

The Museum

If you are familiar with the previous museum, you will see that the new one is totally different.  The room is larger, the walls have been repainted (I love the colour), there are new displays and many of the displays are interactive.  The interface to control what you see on displays is via ipads and in some cases you can listen.  Although the appearance is open and uncluttered, there is plenty of information to be had.   Some artifacts are on display although the photos are not the originals – these are kept in the Northumberland County archives.

Marie Dressler Museum Britney Sproule The Museum was designed by 5 master’s program students at the University of Toronto and one of them, Britney Sproule (photo right), was hired to manage the project (more here).  The cost of the project is $125,000 with most of the funds being raised by the Marie Dressler Foundation.  Both the Provincial and Federal governments provided grants and the Town of Cobourg made a contribution as well (more on cost etc here)

The external window has been blocked off to prevent damage by sunlight and the space has been filled by a painting by Heather Cooper.  It shows an imagined teenaged Marie Dressler looking out the window. Heather Cooper also painted the walls of the Henley Arcade - more details on that and Heather here.

The room is larger than previously – the set with wax figures has gone, the room has been repainted, new tracklights have been installed – it’s a complete new look.

All the work was done by local suppliers with many supplying items at cost - see graphic at bottom.

Marie Dressler Museum outside Marie Dressler Museum  - Erin Wakely, Cobourg Tourism

Marie Dressler Museum inside Marie Dressler Museum inside

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