Providence Bay

Providence Bay Discovery Centre Gallery

The gallery space of the former Providence Bay Harbor Interpretive Centre has been redesigned and rebuilt following an extensive planning process. The goal for our client (Municipality of Central Manitoulin) was to provide a unique, interactive space that would promote awareness of the rich natural and cultural heritage of Providence Bay to both tourists and local residents. This is an area worth preserving, worth visiting again and again, and worth sharing with family and friends.

Date Opened:                 July 1, 2015
Client:                              Municipality of Central Manitoulin
Location:                         Providence Bay Harbour, Manitoulin Island, Lake Huron, Ontario
Total Budget:                 $124,300 CAD

The goal for the redesign of Providence Bay Harbour Interpretive Centre was to provide a unique, interactive space for our client that would promote awareness of the rich natural and cultural heritage of Providence Bay to both tourists and local residents. This is an area worth visiting, worth learning about, worth sharing, worth preserving.

We used a clear and simple framework to help guide visitor exploration of the Discovery Centre’s diverse content. The gallery space was organized into four thematic areas, plus a central hub and outdoor interpretive panels. Starting at the central hub, visitors radiate out into each of the four themed exhibit areas to explore subtheme elements, and are then returned to the hub at the end of their exploration. The hub also functions as an area for gallery staff to work, store reference materials, assist visitors, and monitor gallery activity.  (Fig. 2)

Content within each theme area followed the same basic flow to help visitors orient themselves to the information. (Fig. 3)

We produced an array of attractive, robust lo-tech interactive exhibits for the client that revealed the story of Providence Bay and the Manitoulin Island region. Lo-tech interactives were an ideal choice. The materials (wood, sand, water) and models (fish, stones, weeds) created an immersive environment that blended seamlessly with the natural surroundings of Providence Bay. This also helped ensure the durability of exhibits given the high number of young visitors and the constant exposure to sand, wind, sun, water, and other elements.

Process Example: Activities Centre

Separate from the main exhibit is an Activities Centre containing diverse hands-on interactives based on information in the exhibit areas that can be set up and changed regularly. Materials and instructions available at the Activities Centre provide ideal opportunities for self directed learning. The top of the display can be used as a “temporary exhibit space” to showcase different artefacts. Staff and community are invited to suggest new artefacts and activities, thereby making new contributions to the larger themes of the Discovery Centre.

Lo-Tech Activity Example: Dune Formation Interactive

This interactive activity illustrates how beach plants help to stabilize the dunes. By tilting the unit side to side the visitor sees how the sand tends to gather around the root-like wires. The unit is accessed by removing the top screws. Should the acrylic get scratched up over time it can be easily replaced by removing the top.