Despite COVID-19 collapse, Vancouver’s museums look to the future

Vancouver Amid collapsing ticket sales, layoffs and financial devastation, some Vancouver museums and attractions are clinging to life, and holding on for a future after the pandemic ends.

Many have moved content online for visitors who can no longer come through their doors. And while the buildings remain closed, staff are updating exhibits to accommodate what they believe will be long-term changes to what customers expect.

It’s a really difficult time,” said Museum of Vancouver CEO Mauro Vescera. “Clearly we’re not going to be able to be holding big openings right now.”

He said the museum is looking at using its space differently because it believes customers will want a greater focus on cleanliness and to allow for physical distancing long after the public health orders have ceased.

Vescera said what the city is going through is unprecedented and it’s the type of subject the museum is already planning to incorporate into an exhibit.

He’s inviting members the public to share how they are adapting to life to create a crowdsourced “collective history,” he said. The exhibit will be called “Isolating Together.”

Science World

“Science World has been hugely impacted by COVID-19,” said its president and CEO, Janet Wood, in a statement to CTV News. “This has been a devastating blow to our organization and it will be hard for us to recover from.

The facility closed on March 13 and lost 85 per cent of its revenue. It laid off all part time staff and full-time staff took a 20 per cent pay cut.

The Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy Program has helped it retain the staff it has and Science World is grateful for that, she said. But with operating costs of $1 million a month, Wood said the organization is hoping for more government funding and donations.

Wood said she doesn’t know what restrictions will be in place but she expects reduced visitors and extra cleaning and sanitary programs.

“We are doing everything we can to ensure that we have a Science World to come back to but the longer this continues, the harder that becomes,” Wood said.

Science World’s Dome at Home website still offers at-home science experiments and a chance to share videos, like “How to find out if your cat is left- or right- handed.”

HR MacMillan Space Centre

The HR MacMillan Space Centre has seen losses of about $100,000 a month, said its executive director, Raylene Marchand. The attraction has laid off 38 of its 50 employees, including front-line staff and desk staff.

“It’s been a very significant impact. Our major revenue streams have dried up completely,” she said.

But retaining a $519,000 annual city grant has been a lifeline that has kept the space centre alive, she said. And the agency has started looking at what services it can offer after the pandemic, she said.

The space centre is holding one of its Cosmic Nights events online this week, she said, to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Earth Day with guest speakers, she said.

“We’re all going to try and figure out what this looks like. We have high touch exhibits and so maintaining cleaning will be very important for us,” she said.

Vancouver Maritime Museum

The Vancouver Maritime Museum has been closed since mid-March and would be in much worse straits had the City of Vancouver not honoured its $400,000 grant, said museum executive director, Dr. Joost C.A. Schokkenbroek.

“Without those subsidies we would go belly up,” he said.

The maritime museum laid off 28 people, and now are continuing with a “skeleton crew” of 10 staff members, he said. Nearly everyone is working from home.

“The doors are closed, but we’re still trying to indicate to our phenomenal supporters that we are still there. We’re not dead, we’re still very much alive,” he said, adding the museum is preparing for the days it will reopen.

“First and foremost I want my dear audiences to realize they will see hand sanitizers all over the place. I want to see doorknobs shining. I want people to realize this is a good place to go with my family,” he said.  

Originally Publish at: https://bc.ctvnews.ca/

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