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Revelstoke Museum & Archives weathers the COVID storm

Attendance dropped but grant assistance allowed for continued operations
Elizabeth (left) and Suzanne Haupt on the steps of Revelstoke Museum and Archives. The sisters worked for the Revelstoke Museum and Archives and the Revelstoke Railway Museum as student interns from September 2020 to March 2021. (Contributed)

The Revelstoke Museum & Archives saw 30 per cent less visitors in 2020, compared to 2019.

In a recent annual report to city council, curator Cathy English reported attendance was good in July and August, and gift shop sales recovered after the March 16 to June 1 closure due to COVID restrictions.

English, with the help of grant money from the Revelstoke Community Foundation, created virtual programming for residents at Mt. Cartier Court, when she could no longer go in for visits.

While there was time for 16 school visits before they were suspended again in November, English delivered four classroom programs via Zoom.

Nine Brown Bag History talks were given as per usual between November 2019 and March 2020, and have been delivered via Facebook Live and Zoom since then. In September there was a return to small audiences, however that was suspended again in November.

The change in pace has allowed the museum the opportunity to grow their social media presence. All of the videos are posted on Youtube and there were daily posts to Facebook during the closure.

One such successful series of posts were This & That, which asked visitors to choose their favourite of two images. Weekly quiz questions were also popular.

Museum staff also participated in the Yorkshire Museum’s Battle of the Curator, which asked participating museum’s to post their favourite artifacts that matched a weekly theme, on Twitter.

The museum’s website was also updated this year.

Though income from admissions and programs was lost, the museum received funding through the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy, the BC Museums Association, the Museums Assistance Program (through Heritage Canada) and the Columbia Basin Trust, which allowed them to keep staff employed.

The museum expect additional funds in coming years as the Land of Thundering Snow travelling exhibition is completed and now on tour. It’s currently in Whistler and scheduled to go to Salmon Arm this summer and Fernie in the fall.

Last summer’s kids program was cancelled for the first time in 20 years, however, English hopes a modified program will be available this year.