Touchstones asks city for moving grant

The artifact collection at 402 Anderson St. would move to the "Diefenbunker" in the Gray building.

The 'Diefenbunker' in the basement of the Gray Building in Nelson contains this reminder not to forget your gasmask and geiger counter. Touchstones is planning to move its permanent collection from its former museum location at 402 Anderson Street to the bunker that was built during the cold war era as a fallout shelter.

The 'Diefenbunker' in the basement of the Gray Building in Nelson contains this reminder not to forget your gasmask and geiger counter. Touchstones is planning to move its permanent collection from its former museum location at 402 Anderson Street to the bunker that was built during the cold war era as a fallout shelter.

Touchstones Nelson asked city council on September 19 for a $25,000 grant to move its 7,000-item museum artifact collection from its former museum site at 402 Anderson Street.

Touchstones opened its new museum, gallery, and archives at its present location in 2006, but there wasn’t room for the entire museum collection.

The remaining artifacts have languished at the city-owned Anderson Street location because Touchstones has been unable to find a suitable location, but now there is a potential solution.

Touchstones board member Ken Watson told council that Touchstones hopes to move the collection into the bunker in the basement of the Gray building, next door to Touchstones.

He said the city and Touchstones have arranged a three way lease agreement with the owners of the Gray building. A grant from the city would help to leverage funding from other sources, Watson said.

The space in the basement of the Gray building was originally built as a Cold War era bunker, intended as a fallout shelter where officials could go in case of an atomic war. It was one of more than 50 so-called Diefenbunkers, named after Prime Minister John Diefenbaker, who authorized their construction.

Laura Fortier, Touchstones’ archivist and collections manager, is happy about the possible move from the concrete block Anderson Street building constructed in the 1970s. She says humidity, pests, mold, and leaks have been a constant problem.

“I am really excited about it,” she says. “Not only do I not have to go across town, but it will be cleaner and easier to care for.”

Fortier explained that they will not move all 7,000 items, but that many things that are duplicates, or which may have limited historical relevance, will be weeded out before the move.

Council has not yet made a decision about the grant request.