When reopening for the 2022 season in early April, visitors to the Derby Historical Museum may have noticed some changes around the building.
Along with a revamp and minor updates to existing exhibits at the museum, a new exhibit was installed in late March/early April showcasing the paintings of the late William Durnil – the town’s first chiropractor and founding board member. administration of the Derby Historical Society. The paintings in the exhibition were donated by Durnil’s wife, Norma Durnil.
“We are very grateful to him for sharing these wonderful prints and paintings with us so that everyone can enjoy them,” said Susan Swaney, a member of the museum’s board of trustees.
Norma noted that a shared passion for the museum led her to donate the exhibits, which she says would make her husband proud.
“I think he would love it. He loved Derby and he loved people, so I think he would feel very honoured,” Norma said. “I’ve always loved the museum. I think that’s just a wonderful facility.
William Durnil’s paintings focus on many of Derby’s landmarks, including the Round Barn Ranch at the south end of town. Museum volunteer Dave McDonald noted that it had attracted a lot of attention during recent field trips in fourth grade, with one student remarking “I thought it was a photograph.”
As well as the new Durnil exhibit, museum volunteers have also recently updated the Derby Schools exhibit. Changes included organizing items by school, subject etc, and adding a new timeline on the history of Derby’s state schools.
Alongside the schools history, William Durnil’s art also helps paint a vivid picture of Derby’s past. Norma noted that his paintings allow visitors to see Derby “as he saw it” and help illustrate changes over the years that some residents may not be aware of.
“They show the diversity of the community and the richness of our history,” McDonald said of the paintings. “We have an artistic heritage.”
“We look at this footage and we see things that have been here a long time that other people may not have seen or they don’t realize how long they’ve been here,” Swaney said.
In season (April to October), the museum is open to visitors from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturdays.