Patricia Cunning knows how to get things done. The executive director for MacBride Museum is one of those individuals capable of having a vision and finding a way to make it happen. The new MacBride Museum expansion is a testament to this ability, and Yukoners will start seeing the product of her efforts this month.

On July 5, the Land and Light Gallery will officially open as the first of several new exhibits to be unveiled over the coming year. The concept is to give each new space the attention it deserves. The Land and Light Gallery will have some special new pieces according to Cunning.

“It will feature a Ted Harrison exhibit,” Cunning said during a tour of the new spaces. “It’s a partnership with us, Ted Harrison’s family and the Ted Harrison Foundation to showcase Ted’s work at home in the Yukon.”

In all, 11 Ted Harrison paintings will be on display at the new gallery as a star attraction. A true show-woman, Cunning isn’t allowing sneak peeks in print and is keeping the artwork under wraps until the unveiling, so Harrison fans will have to go see them for themselves.

Harrison’s paintings will be the main attraction in the new exhibit, but the large space will incorporate a variety of objects from the MacBride collection. They will be joined by a common theme, according to Cunning.

“They will be made from the land or inspired by the light,” she explained.

There will be a rotating show of photographs from the MacBride collection along one wall. The first show on display will be a collection of photos that represents all the communities in the Yukon. As well, Cunning shared seal-skin pieces that have been in the collection for decades, but never put on display. These will also be showcased as part of the new exhibit. There will be plenty more to see once the new space opens.

The new gallery is one of several new exhibits planned and Cunning expects them to be unveiled in the coming months.

“We’ll open one gallery at a time in sequence,” Cunning said, “and have a grand opening this time next year.”

Other new displays that people can look for include the Science Lab, the Map Library, and a new First Nations gallery.

The Science Lab will feature scientific work exploring geology, climate and adaptation from ancient people to modern times, as well as a partnership with the Yukon College (soon to be Yukon University) that explores permafrost. Visitors will have a chance to experience the cold first-hand in a walk-in freezer. Coast Mountain is sponsoring the special Aurora Borealis-themed Skookum-brand parkas that guests will wear during the experience.

The Map Library will be located on the second floor and feature rare books in the MacBride collection. Those will not be available to read; however, the extensive reference-book collection at MacBride will be available for visitors to enjoy in dedicated reading areas. As well, the room will get its name from the historic maps that will be displayed on the walls.

The First Nations gallery will be on the main floor and will take over the old reception space in the Centennial Building. The old entrance space that featured the gift shop, viewing room and the reception desk will be redesigned to feature artwork and artifacts from Yukon First Nations.

An eye-catching feature that visitors will get to see in the new lobby, in the main building, is the Northern Lights Icicles project that has been done in partnership with Lumel Studios. The three- to four-foot-long glass-blown icicles will hang from the ceiling, simulating a dancing Aurora Borealis. The project was a result of MacBride board members looking to find a new feature to attract visitors.

“We talked about engagement of pedestrians,” Cunning said. “We wanted something that was bright and eye-catching.

Lumel Studios was quick to jump on board and it became a project for all students graduating from grade seven in Yukon schools. In fact, any student who graduated from a Yukon school this year can still take part in the free project by visiting Lumel Studios and creating an icicle that will be on display at MacBride Museum. Yukoners who weren’t in grade seven this year can still take part with a donation to MacBride.

The MacBride Museum expansion promises to unveil unique Yukon objects in the coming months, as new exhibits open. For more information on the event on July 5, or future events, call the museum at 867-667-2709 or visit their website at MacbrideMuseum.com.