The Wenatchee Valley Museum & Cultural Center, like other entertainment venues and public spaces, is waiting for Phase 3 of the Gov. Jay Inslee's four-phase plan to reopen after closing in mid-March to help prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus.
Operating as a nonprofit, the organization's mission, officially, is "to gather, engage and educate people to celebrate and preserve the history, arts, sciences and rich diversity of our region."
The pandemic put the brakes on the gathering piece, but a mix of technology, knowhow and public interest has helped the museum's dozen or so staffers continue with the engage and educate part of the platform. That's helped both morale and the budget.
The doors at 127 S. Mission St. have been closed, but museum offiicals have still managed to keep all of their employees. Much of their recent revenue comes from virtual classes and workshops as well as a summer camp program.
The Wenatchee Valley Business World asked the museum's outreach coordinator, Ashley Sinner, about operations during the shutdown and plans to reopen.
Wenatchee Valley Business World: Will changes to the museum’s business model be needed to make ends meet as the pandemic continues?
Ashley Sinner: We have taken it just one step at a time. Given that we didn't know that we were going to continue to be closed for so long, we have just gone each month, or a couple months, out in our planning.
Right now, we are looking at budget revisions toward the end of the year and into next year. We’ll see how that pans out. We have no specific changes right now to be announced and we have continued to keep all of the museum staff employed while we’re closed because we've been doing so much online content — and now with our summer camp programs that we are running.
WVBW: How has time been spent during the shutdown?
Sinner: We’ve all been working mostly from home. A few staff that have been able to go into the museum at different times to keep all of the collections and everything safe. We have a lot of online content with virtual tours and educational classes and we have our community forums. We also have some “Made in Wenatchee” live Zoom events.
WVBW: Has the museum had to reduce the number of events, classes and activities it puts on?
Sinner: As far as our content is, we are doing so much online content that we are busier, I feel like, than normal. As far as our events go, no. Obviously we had multiple live events a month, sometimes multiple in-person events a week. So, obviously we can’t do that. But, we’re still trying to serve our mission, which is to gather, engage and educate the community.
WVBW: Are there any preparations being made for when a full-scale reopening can be made?
Sinner: We have been trying to make preparations I feel like for months now. We are always reevaluating based on the information we have. We have moved to more non-touch options in our exhibit spaces. The biggest change would be that the Coyotes Corner, our early education exhibit area, would not be able to open right away.
WVBW: What do you think will be the long-term impacts of the shut down?
Sinner: I think we can only just take it one day at a time and not get ahead of ourselves. We don’t know what's going to happen. We’re just reevaluating as we go along and seeing what happens.