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$85,000 donation to de Vries heritage collection project

The campaign to make the de Vries Natural Heritage Collection a permanent feature at Ameliasburgh Heritage Village recently received an $85,000 boost from a local philanthropic organization.

The John M. & Bernice Parrott Foundation approved the contribution to the project following a funding application submitted by the Friends of Ameliasburgh Heritage Village.

“We are so thankful that the John M. & Bernice Parrott Foundation see the merit of this unique collection and how it will benefit our community for years to come,” said Sheila Eagen, Chair of the Friends of Ameliasburgh Heritage Village.

The County Museums has been working with a dedicated group of volunteers to house the collection, crafted in Prince Edward County by the late Jake de Vries, of nearly 500 specimens, ranging from waterfowl to song birds to mammals, large and small, to reptiles and fish. It has been estimated to be one of the finest private collections of taxidermy in the province.

The de Vries family has offered the collection to the County’s museum system, in hopes it will remain intact, and available to the community.

“The diversity of the collection will astound people,” said Jennifer Lyons, Head Curator. “It’s an educational resource that has no comparison locally or even regionally.”

Museum staff and project volunteers have long identified the “Green Barn” at Ameliasburgh Heritage Village as the preferred home for the collection, as the building has ample space. The barn, however, requires significant structural upgrades in order to make it a suitable location for the collection, which has special environmental needs to ensure long-term preservation.

In addition to renovation costs, exhibition materials such as cases, hanging systems, and interpretive panels will also be required.

The total fundraising goal is $154,000. Now, less than $6,500 remains to close the fundraising gap and put the wheels in motion to relocate the specimens to their new home.

Other major contributors to the project include The Prince Edward County Stewardship Council and the Stark Foundation. This is a particularly poignant year to conclude the project, as Ameliasburgh Heritage Village celebrates its 50th anniversary in 2018.

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