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County building up heritage and culture at Simcoe County Museum

Midhurst/ June 27, 2023 – Today, County Council endorsed the plan to build up the heritage and cultural buildings at the Simcoe County Museum in a total estimated $18 million expansion including the creation of the Matthews Innovation and Transportation Gallery. The plan also includes a number of upgrades to the existing Museum over a seven-year period including improved gallery space and visitor experience, environmentally-friendly design with a Zero Carbon Building, improved security for temporary exhibits, and a more efficient room for meetings and special events.

Occurring over three phases, this expansion will begin with its most ambitious project – the 5,000 square foot Matthews Innovation and Transportation Gallery and a 2,300 square foot space for curatorial functions and collections storage. An additional 2,633 square foot mezzanine overlooking the new gallery will provide opportunities for additional themed exhibitions as well as interpretive and programming space.

“This exciting project that we are undertaking preserves the past while looking to the future of the Simcoe County Museum,” said Warden Basil Clarke. “This is largely thanks to the generosity of the late Charles Matthews, who saw something special in this museum and the history it showcases. We are incredibly grateful for the legacy he has left behind and it is an honour to name the new gallery the Matthews Innovation and Transportation Gallery in his memory.”

The Matthews Innovation and Transportation Gallery is named in honour of Simcoe County Museum’s largest-ever donor, Charles Matthews, whose bequest of almost $5 million will allow the museum to better display and care for museum collections, highlight Simcoe County’s historical innovation, and provide enhanced cultural and heritage experiences for residents and visitors.

In addition to the noted long-term and ongoing utility cost savings that a Zero Carbon Building will provide, the design offers additional benefits:

  • Charred timber construction offers opportunities to showcase, interpret, and honour the County of Simcoe’s foresight and innovation in the establishment and century long operation of county forests.
  • Triple glazed windows provide an exceptional view to the heritage and display buildings on the grounds, while offering increased insulation as well as UV protection for the benefit of the artifacts on display.
  • Solar panels offset the hydro consumption required to power the addition solely using electricity and provides countless interpretive opportunities to discuss concepts such as innovation, sustainability, environmental impact on our area, both past and present.

Work on all phases are expected to be complete by 2030, in time for the celebration of the Simcoe County Museum’s 100th anniversary. Work on phase one is expected to begin in spring 2024 with an estimated completion in 2026. Online donations are being accepted from the community at

About the Simcoe County Museum

Take the Infinite Journey with the Simcoe County Museum, a cultural exploration of our historical past and exciting future. The Simcoe County Museum is owned and operated by the County of Simcoe and offers year-round exhibits, events and educational programs for visitors of every age. Visit our website at for further details and like, follow, and share the Simcoe County Museum on Facebook (@simcoecountymuseum) and Twitter (@simcoecountyMUS).

About the County of Simcoe

County of Simcoe is composed of sixteen member municipalities and provides crucial public services to County residents in addition to providing paramedic and social services to the separated cities of Barrie and Orillia. Visit our website at​

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Andrea Walasek
Public Relations Consultant
County of Simcoe, Service Simcoe Department
249-535-3511 (mobile)

Collin Matanowitsch
Manager, Public Relations
County of Simcoe, Service Simcoe Department
705-734-8386 (mobile)