Sandra Parrish, executive director of the Museum at Campbell River, makes use of the sanitizer located on a small table right as you come through the doors of the facility – which now remain propped open to reduce contact. It’s been a trying few months for the facility, but they’re getting creative to continue to serve the community. Photo by Mike Davies – Campbell River Mirror

Sandra Parrish, executive director of the Museum at Campbell River, makes use of the sanitizer located on a small table right as you come through the doors of the facility – which now remain propped open to reduce contact. It’s been a trying few months for the facility, but they’re getting creative to continue to serve the community. Photo by Mike Davies – Campbell River Mirror

Museum at Campbell River adapting to its new COVID reality

‘The museum will always be here, however the community needs us.’

The Museum at Campbell River had big plans for the year.

The staff and volunteers were looking forward to growing their programming and continuing to be a voice in the community celebrating our history and culture.

But as we all know, 2020 had other plans.

“Things changed so drastically and so very quickly back in March,” says Sandra Parrish, executive director of the museum. “I was just beginning to think, ‘We might have to close the museum, but we’ll see how things go,’ and then, bam. We’re closed. And we didn’t know for how long. I was kind of in shock for a little while.”

But Parrish and her staff kept their heads about them, and set to planning how they could still serve the community even with the doors of the facility locked.

“We had to get creative,” she says. “I mean, there are the behind the scenes things like caring for the collection. It needs to be monitored and that kind of thing, so we had to put all that in place right away. But in terms of how do we keep the connection with the community in these changed times? That was a huge challenge.”

Thankfully, Parrish says, they had just launched a new website and were already exploring more ways to engage people virtually through social media channels and other online platforms.

“We already had an extensive video content library, but it wasn’t online,” Parrish says. “So we moved a lot of that onto YouTube and focused on getting content onto the website and the blog. We started doing worksheets and the weekly crossword puzzle, and then, during the summer, we had the summer students go ahead with the heritage puppet shows, and just moved them to an online, YouTube-based format, and now we’re looking at repurposing and repackaging that, maybe for use by teachers or those who will be homeschooling.”

RELATED: Museum celebrating 15 years of book sales

Moving forward, Parrish says, they have to just keep pivoting and posturing, to fill whatever role in the community the community itself needs from them.

“In a normal year we’d be just about to welcome 4,000 kids into this building,” she says. “So what can we do to support those people instead? We’re looking at coming up with some outside things and just keep looking for opportunities.”

One of those upcoming “outside things” is a Trivia Trek involving the “Our History” signs that are sprinkled throughout the community – sort of like an educational scavenger hunt – which they are planning for throughout October.

But as great as all of the online and outside programming is – and will be – Parrish admits that for a facility that prides itself on being a community gathering place, it’s been a tough slog.

“The numbers this summer were down about 75 per cent,” she says.

And for an organization that gets a good chunk of its annual operational funding from having people come through the doors, that’s not good.

“I’ll be honest. I’m a bit worried about 2021,” she says. “This year, very early on, the funders said, ‘Don’t worry, even if you’re not delivering all the programs, we’ll still fund you,’ and even though there was certainly a loss with the self-generated revenue (admissions and gift shop sales, for example), there were some governmental supports put in place. But what’s going to happen next year is a bit of a mystery.”

RELATED: Museum launches Sunday crossword puzzle inspired by local history

But in the end, Parrish is “cautiously optimistic” about the future.

“There’s always going to be a future in history,” she says. “There will always be a place for museums to be a touch point where we can learn about our past and understand our present by finding out how we got here. It remains to be seen how different things will be – and there will certainly be changes – but the museum will always be here, however the community needs us.”

You can stay up to date on programming, hours of operation and upcoming events – whatever they may end up looking like – by following the museum’s Facebook page (@museumatcampbellriver) or by visiting crmuseum.ca



miked@campbellrivermirror.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Orca 1
Orcas: Our Shared Future

Royal BC Museum dives into the world of orcas with upcoming feature exhibition

Frank Ludwig in a forklift with his long hair during Trooper’s heyday. (Photo submitted)
Humble Island beginnings blossomed into storied career for Trooper keyboardist

Frank Ludwig got his start as a boy pumping the organ in a tiny downtown Chemainus church

Joan Miller with the Vancouver Island North Regional Film Commission says there’s much room for optimism in the region rebounding from COVID-19 and is excited about what the future holds for the region. Black Press File Photo
North Island film industry optimistic about post-COVID rebound

Interest in filming here is still high, according to film commission, once things open back up

The 10-part Netflix series Maid, which is being exclusively shot in Greater Victoria, has been filming in Langford and Colwood over the past two weeks. On April 7, filming will take place on the east side of the Esquimalt Lagoon. (Black Press Media file)
Netflix series ‘Maid’ filming in Colwood

10-episode Warner Bros. production filmed exclusively in Greater Victoria

Lantzville singer Raymond Salgado will sing ‘O Canada’ before the Vancouver Canucks’ upcoming game against the Toronto Maple Leafs on April 17. (Photo submitted)
Lantzville singer to perform ‘O Canada’ at Vancouver Canucks game

Raymond Salgado scheduled to sing the anthem at Rogers Arena later this month

Nanaimo children’s entertainer Steve Romanik, represented by his character Mountain Dweller, is giving away his songs and stories to help raise money for children’s causes. (Photo courtesy Steve Romanik)
Nanaimo children’s entertainer ‘Mountain Dweller’ helping raise money for kids’ causes

Steve Romanik partnering with Nanaimo Child Development Centre, B.C. Children’s Hospital

“Racing Classics” by John Horton depicts sailboats near Trial Island off the coast of Oak Bay. The painting will be featured in his <em>Maritime Impressions</em> exhibit at the Winchester Gallery until April 14.
Greater Victoria galleries beckon spring with vibrant, whimsical nature scenes

At The Galleries: look at what’s on display this month

‘We Are All Beautiful’ by Elise Cole and ‘The Modern Thrall’ by Enigye (Happy) Amarkah (from left) are two of the pieces featured in VIU’s Anti-Racism Arts Festival. (Images courtesy the artists)
Vancouver Island University holds first Anti-Racism Arts Festival

Three-day online event to feature visual arts, performance, film and poetry

Thomas Kuecks, Bellamy Kuecks and Paula Foot have come together to create an album of stories for children. (Nina Foot photo)
Moments with Miss Paula creates musical stories for kids

Music and the spoken word from Island pair available on streaming

Author Eden Robinson poses for a portrait during an interview in Toronto, Wednesday, May 29, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Tijana Martin
Trickster trilogy author Eden Robinson hosts online conversation and reading

Haisla and Heiltsuk will join fans in event hosted by Vancouver Island Regional Library

Nanaimo author Lawrence Winkler’s latest book is ‘The Last Casebook of Doctor Sababa.’ (Bulletin file photo/supplied)
Nanaimo author wraps up trilogy following ‘antihero’ Island doctor

Lawrence Winkler presents ‘The Last Casebook of Doctor Sababa’

‘Frank Ney’ by Patrick Flavin, ‘Millstone River Upper Falls’ by John Collison Baker, ‘Labyrinth of Dreams’ by MA Molcan, ‘On the Other Side’ by Liana Ravensbergen, ‘December Snow’ by Laurel Karjala and ‘Jacks Point’ by Dana Smiley (cropped, clockwise from top-left) are among the works in the Nanaimo Arts Council’s latest exhibition. (Photos courtesy Nanaimo Arts Council)
Nanaimo Arts Council presents its first online gallery show

Submissions now open for upcoming ‘Ekphrastic Celebration’ show

Dorothy Sevcov’s exhibition ‘Having Fun With Acrylics’ is on display at Art 10 Gallery until the end of the month. (Josef Jacobson/The News Bulletin)
Experimental paintings now on exhibit at Nanaimo’s Art 10 Gallery

Dorothy Sevcov’s ‘Having Fun With Acrylics’ on display through April

Most Read