Prince George's Exploration Place has announced they will be closed until later in 2021, the Spring to be exact, due to health and welfare of the community and renovations.
Board Co-Chair Shauna Harper says the museum will be exploring ways to continue offering a world-class experience going forward during, and after, COVID-19.
“In a time of crisis individuals turn to their community institutions for information, inspiration and support," she said in a release.
"The Exploration Place has continued to provide steady leadership in these unprecedented times while reimagining what Hands-On Discovery Learning will look like Post-COVID.”
CEO Tracy Calogheros says programming is and will still be available virtually going forward.
"Truth be told we’ve never actually stopped delivering our world-class programming,” she adds in the release. “Our pivot to online was almost instantaneous and it’s getting better every day!
"Tens of thousands of you have engaged with us online since we closed our building on March 13th and we love all of you for that! We will continue to offer you new online experiences; launching our online Nature Exchange and Speaker Series this summer; offering FREE in-class school programs starting this fall all over Northern BC and by upgrading our obsolete Collections Database to a brand new system this winter. Our gift shop is available for curbside pick-up and we are still selling those great, non-medical masks to help keep us all safe."
Calogheros says staff are working to renovate galleries, access points and interpretation. The Exploration Place says they are planning to offer a large, indoor botanical Palaeo-Garden and a major expansion to its Animal Ambassador Program.
They will also reconfigure the Ted Williams History Hall with more room for in-house exhibits drawing for collection and archives of over 1,000,000. They will also be adding space to showcase Indigenous material culture and traditional ways of knowing.
“I can’t express to everyone just how much we miss all of you," Calogheros said.
"Everything we do here at The Exploration Place is about our community and our future leaders. We had been working towards a major refresh of our galleries for several years, our last major overhaul was in 2000 so it just makes sense to do that work now.”
The Early Explorers Preschool and Fort George Explorers After School Care Programs will not be offered in the fall.
“This part of our physical closure is particularly devastating to me. We have been offering camps since 1996 and Out of School Care since 2001. However, the very same environment that makes those programs unique is working against us in a world where high-touch surfaces and closed air handling systems are unsafe.”
The Exploration Place will be starting a fundraising campaign that they say will secure necessary funds to reinvent themselves once again, better, more modern and safer.
Those with memberships will be offered free memberships upon return of Exploration Place.
“Science, culture and history have never been more important to our society, we will get this right," Calogheros added.
"Please stay healthy, wear your masks and stay in touch. We will get through this together. We can’t wait to see you again!”