The County Museum and Archives is adjacent to the County’s stately limestone Courthouse, restored by +VG Architects in 1996. The museum, an 1864 limestone building, was, until 1971, the county jail.

In 2002, the County retained +VG Architects to provide architectural consulting and museum planning services to carry out a review of the Museum and Archives structural and functional components, such as service delivery and accessibility, in order to maximize the effectiveness and efficiency of the Museum operation for the 21st Century. One of the major goals of the study was to find ways to accommodate more flexible space for student activity, education programs, and multi-purpose needs.

In Spring 2009, +VG was asked to revisit the study to review the program against current needs and update project costing in anticipation of proceeding with implementation of the Museum and Archives Master Plan vision later in 2009. In 2011, +VG was retained to design the expansion to the existing Archives building. We were chosen for the expertise and experience with designing institutional buildings within historical contexts.

The expansion includes new activity and educational program areas, public washrooms, relocated Research Room and Archival Storage, multi-purpose space, storage space in the basement, and a new one-storey gallery addition.

The historical setting of the property as a whole, represented a unique challenge. In order to fully appreciate this setting, it was imperative that the development of the property be designed in harmony with both the topography of the site and the existing heritage fabric, so that the historical beauty of the existing building and natural open area of the site will continue to be the dominant features. To accomplish this, careful consideration has been given to the size and siting of the building, the architecture of the new intervention in regards to the choice of cladding materials, and in maintaining as much as possible of the property in its natural current state.


Napanee, Ontario




12,000 ft²


Study, Renovation & Addition





David Bell