The idea of a community museum was initiated by four Grade 10 students at the Enderby Junior Secondary School, who began working on plans for a museum in the autumn of 1972. In the summer of 1973 the students were awarded an Opportunities for Youth grant and given a room in the school basement for storage; they began collecting and cataloguing donations, interviewing pioneers, and building display cases.
The Enderby and District Community Museum Society was registered with the province on September 5, 1973. The society began making plans to build a museum complex-a pioneer log village-and city council promised land on the north side of the Barnes Park playground to the society.
In 1979, the Provincial Museum Advisor, John Adams, encouraged the society to choose a unique theme for the museum to attract residents as well as tourists. By early 1980, the society wanted to build a 6,000 square foot museum building to house farming and logging equipment donated by a local resident. The price tag for the building was $125,000, which the museum society would raise money for, and they approached the City of Enderby and the North Okanagan Regional District, requesting a referendum to ask taxpayers if they would be willing cover the annual operating costs of $25,000.
On November 15, 1980, voters went to the polls and the museum referendum was defeated with a 70% no vote. With 186 votes for and 436 votes against the museum referendum, the museum society was encouraged to reconsider their plans.
In 1987, the City of Enderby announced that they were the recipients of an Expo Legacy grant and would be building an addition to city hall to house their offices, with space in the basement to house the museum and the library.
The museum society received a JobTrac grant to hire three full-time employees for six months to catalogue artifacts and photographs and get the museum ready for the official opening on May 28, 1988. The following year, the society hired their first part-time curator, Joan Cowan.
The library relocated in August 2002, and the museum society again approached city council, this time to request that they be allowed to take over the old library space. Their request was approved, and the museum expanded in size from 1,400 to 3,200 square feet. The grand opening took place on February 21, 2004, during Heritage Week, and the expanded museum boasted additional artifact storage space and new displays, as well as a large archives and research area.
Enderby Museum, 2015