Heritage Buildings and Adaptive Reuse for Museums



Session Title:

Heritage Buildings and Adaptive Reuse for Museums



Paul Thistle and Thomas Wicks, (Heritage Planner, Ontario Heritage Trust)


Session Description:

This presentation 'Bordering on Folly: Adaptive Re-Use of a Heritage Structure to House The Sam Waller Museum (or Murphy’s Law Run Amok)' will outline the moving of a former encyclopedic and eclectic private museum collection into a provincial historic site. This project provides a valuable cautionary tale. The results of the extensive background research in museum facility design and adaptive re-use, the preparation of a functional plan for the new facility, design work with architectural, mechanical, electrical, and structural consultants, the restoration and renovation of the historic site, the preservation of the facade and interior historic elements along with new construction, and the highly problematic supervision of the contractors' work will be addressed. Details of the “room-within-a-room” approach to climate control to provide humidification of interior spaces in a northern climate and the inescapable compromises involved in adaptive re-use of heritage buildings for museum purposes will be the main focus of this presentation. Joining Paul Thistle, is Thomas Wicks who will discuss Ontario Heritage Trust easements and the way that the easement can be used to protect the heritage site, and assist in directing change (including adaptive re-use) to include public access and interpretation of the site’s heritage.


Session Slides: 

Download the Presentation Slides [ PDF ]

Presenter Biographies:

Paul Thistle

Paul Thistle has 26 years of mission and management experience in museums & archives. He has successfully led 2 capital projects renovating a Manitoba provincial & a national historic site in Dawson City Yukon for museum purposes. Paul also happened to be working on contract for another museum located in a heritage building that previously had installed humidification equipment. He advised on the resulting spring rain in the storage area. Paul also has reviewed Building Museums: A Handbook for Small and Midsize Organizations.


Thomas Wicks Heritage Planner (Ontario Heritage Trust)

Thomas Wicks is the Heritage Planner at the Ontario Heritage Trust and is responsible for land-use planning issues on Trust-protected properties. Thomas has held a number of positions at the Trust since 2006 including Easements Program Coordinator, Architectural Advisor, and Researcher supporting the Historic Places Initiative and Places of Worship Inventory. Thomas holds an undergraduate and Master’s degree both from the University of Toronto, as well as a certificate in Architectural Preservation and Conservation from Ryerson University and is a professional member of the Canadian Association of Heritage Professionals (CAHP). He is a regular contributor to Spacing magazine and has instructed at the Willowbank School of Restoration Arts. Thomas was also a member of the City of Toronto’s Etobicoke-York Preservation Panel for six years.