Local museums struggle to survive during pandemic
KITCHENER -- The International Council Of Museums says as many as 13 per cent of museums around the world may have to close permanently.
Local museums are also struggling to survive, as tourism takes a hit during the pandemic.
“Thirty per cent of the people who visit the museum over the course of the year are from out of the country,” says John Kastner, the general manager of Stratford Perth museum
In February 2018, dozens of people crowded into a tight space to gaze at the Steps to Stardom Justin Bieber exhibit at the Stratford Perth Museum.
On Monday, the museum reopened for the first time in months, but things aren't the same. Now only 30 people including staff are allowed inside at one time.
“We practice social distancing,” adds Kastner. “Lots of sanitizing.”
Canadian museums are not immune to the impacts of COVID-19. In many cases, the doors have been closed more than they've been open in the past year with attendance suffering.
“One-tenth or one-twentieth of what we would have in a normal year or less,” said Kastner.
The Stratford Perth Museum says they feel lucky to be in a good place financially.
“We’ve taken advantage of every government grant, wage stimulus programs,” Kastner explains.
THEMUSEUM in Kitchener has been closed since November and will stay that way until April. In the meantime, they've been adapting to stay afloat.
“Virtual attendance was just over 53,000 people that have tuned in or pay to see something online of ours,” said CEO Dave Marskell.
Unique events have been a big hit -- like the dinosaur drive-thru THEMUSEUM organized back in October
“We hosted over 50,000 paying customers and that’s about half of our year normally,” adds Marskell,
He says they’re focusing on doing whatever they can to stay relevant in the community.
“Being on people’s minds, so that when we do open we are top of mind,” he explains.
Their hope is that the contributions to history and culture found inside the walls of these institutions can also survive the pandemic.