New Brunswick Museum, Saint John, NB, Canada | CruiseBe
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New Brunswick Museum

History and museums
museum, landmark

The New Brunswick Museum, located in Saint John, New Brunswick, is Canada's oldest continuing museum. The New Brunswick Museum was officially incorporated as the "Provincial Museum" in 1929 and received its current name in 1930, but its history goes back much further. Its lineage can be traced back another eighty-eight years to 1842 and to the work of Dr. Abraham Gesner.



On 5 April 1842 Abraham Gesner opened the Museum of Natural History, the precursor of the New Brunswick Museum, in one room of the Mechanics' Institute on Carleton Street, in Saint John. Unfortunately, income from his newly founded museum was not enough to solve Gesner's financial problems. In 1843, his collection passed on to his creditors who, in turn, donated it to the Saint John Mechanics' Institute.

Renamed the Mechanics' Institute Museum in 1846, an annual report dating from 1863 described it as, "a large and valuable collection of minerals, a great variety of zoological specimens, and many Chinese, Indian and other curiosities that frequently receives additions from foreign sea captains and others who get into their possession foreign articles of an attractive description."

When the Mechanics' Institute closed in 1890, the Natural History Society of New Brunswick acquired the collection and the museum was moved, first to the then new Market Building then, in 1906, to 72 Union Street. Under the care of its curator and later director, the entomologist Dr. William McIntosh, the museum's collections and activities expanded until a new building was essential. In 1934 a new Provincial museum facility on Douglas Avenue was officially opened by Prime Minister R.B. Bennett.

As of 1942, the collections, building and properties of the museum officially became the property of the people of New Brunswick. Today a Provincial institution funded by the Province of New Brunswick, the New Brunswick Museum continues to collect, preserve, study and exhibit the Province's natural and cultural heritage. As well as having a remarkable natural sciences collection, the museum has expanded to include one of the largest collections of 19th century decorative arts and Canadiana in the Atlantic Provinces.

By 1992, the museum had outgrown its Douglas Avenue location, and plans were made to develop new exhibition galleries in a central Saint John location. In April 1996, the New Brunswick Museum officially opened at Market Square in leased space in uptown Saint John (45.2729°N 66.0651°W / 45.2729; -66.0651 (New Brunswick Museum, Market Square Exhibition Centre)). The Market Square Exhibition Centre offers three floors and 60,000 square feet (6,000 m2) of exhibition spaces and a wide range of public programs. The Collections Centre, the Archives and Research Library, and the Head Office continue to be situated at the Douglas Avenue location.


The museum is affiliated with the CMA, the CHIN, and the Virtual Museum of Canada.

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