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Museum to auction artisan birdhouses to support veranda project

Chris Marchand

Chris Marchand served as editor of the Dryden Observer from August 2009 to April 2018.
Dryden Museum Curator Leah Gardner amidst a selection of the birdhouses up for auction. Photos by Jon Thompson
By Jon Thompson
The early bird might get the worm but the highest bidder gets the birdhouse.
The Dryden & District Museum is making history as it holds its first auction of 37 birdhouses built by 22 artists from the age of nine to senior citizens.
Visitors to the museum’s $3 exhibit will be able to bid over the next month-and-a-half on the birdhouses and the silent auction will close on National Museum Day on May 18. Repeat visits to increase bids will be free admission.
“I think getting 37 birdhouses the first time around is good,” said Leah Gardner, the museum’s curator. “There are some people who contributed five birdhouses. I contributed three, myself. I went home and did birdhouses on my weekends.”
Gardner is an admitted collector, both on and off the job. Despite having never built a birdhouse before, she had all the materials from tin to wood to doorknobs and bedsprings. Many of the birdhouses exhibit that kind of rustic creativity while others are refined products of a hundred or more hours of delicate craftsmanship.
Proceeds will seed a fund that will help to build a veranda on the front of the building, complete with historically accurate materials and including sliding doors for wheelchair accessibility.
“We want to put our front brand on. On the front of the building, there aren’t automatic doors and there’s an odd little entry. When you’re in a wheel chair, that’s difficult. The idea of accessibility is you don’t need someone to assist you in and out of the building,” she said, detailing plans to use tiles rescued from the Strand Theatre building and bricks from Albert Street School.
“We’ll have little pieces of Dryden’s history incorporated into the veranda, just like we did when we built this building. The bricks that are on this wall facing when you come in, those were some of the first bricks that were produced back when Dryden had a brick company.”

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