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Westbank Museum celebrates 1st anniversary in new location
It's been a successful first year for the Westbank Museum.
Last year, as the ribbon was cut in front of the Dobbin Road building, hopes were high the new location would bring on a lot more traffic.
According to museum president Margaret Jackson, that's exactly what has happened.
"At seven-and-a-half months we had almost 8,300 visitors from all over the world," said Jackson.
"It's been fantastic."
Over 100 people were on hand for the anniversary celebration Saturday, which featured outdoor exhibits, live entertainment and refreshments.
Jackson said it helps that the museum shares the same building as the Visitor's Information Centre.
"People come off the road and they are always taken aback and leave a little refreshed.
"We get to be the front porch of the community to them."
Jackson is especially appreciative of the museum's current state considering she and her family were nearly forced to shut down the operation a few years ago.
"We just had a waning of board members and volunteers, so it was a struggle for me to keep it open."
After the district amalgamated, Jackson informed council members of her dilemma.
"They put some thought into it and asked us to hold back (from closing) for a little while. They came up with an idea—instead of demolishing this building when the police relocated, it would probably work for the museum."
Jackson said her parents, Clare and Billie Small, worked "tirelessly" to make the dream of a Westbank Museum come alive.
"Anyone who had a tour with my father would always remember it; he gave the best stories of all the things that were there."
West Kelowna Mayor Doug Findlater said the entire community owes a "debt of gratitude" to Clare Small.
"This was his dream…we have to remember how this came about."
According to Findlater, the timing worked out nicely for moving the museum into the new location.
"When we incorporated four-and-a-half years ago, the museum was probably the furthest thing from our minds; however, the opportunity presented itself," said Findlater.
"This is really good for our sense of identity as a community."
Jackson hopes the museum will continue to grow as time goes on.
"I hope we can just keep expanding and adding things and making some inroads as a bit of a cultural centre in Westbank, because we have that need."