Museums and science centers have been hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic. The most recent numbers collected by the American Alliance of Museums forecasted that up to one third of all museums nationwide could shutter their doors permanently as a result of the economic challenges posed by COVID-19.
From March to June, many museums saw their income dwindle to zero when schools went virtual during the busy spring field trip season and exhibit halls closed their doors during the summer tourist months. In mid- to late-summer, some museums slowly reopened but with reduced hours and capacity, while strict cleaning and safety procedures increased operational costs.
Perhaps the largest challenge faced by the museum community during the shut-down is the loss of admission and programming revenue. Although many in the public believe that these institutions are publicly funded, the vast majority do not receive significant operating support from City, State or Federal government sources. Most museums cover operating expenses from fees associated with general admission, field trips, special programs, birthday parties and memberships.
Fundraising events like golf tournaments and galas are just a part of the funding mix. The most critical piece of funding comes from attendance, people visiting museums and science centers. New Hampshire institutions have not been spared.
This fall, NH museums are bracing for ongoing complications as the school year begins with a mix of hybrid and virtual models. In spite of these challenges, science centers and museums are doing their best to pivot and respond to the challenges faced by their communities during the current situation.
SEE Science Center in Manchester has modified programs to meet the needs of the regional educational community. With a new focus on outreach and virtual experiences, the Science Center has prepared to deliver quality educational programs in new formats during the fall semester and has reached out to other community providers to better target underserved populations.
“We are hoping to deliver more free programming than any other year in the museum’s history. Right now although resources are tight, the need is greater than ever and we are thinking outside the box to identify ways that we can best work with our community partners to service more children.” said SEE Executive Director Shana Hawrylchak.