Connecticut River Museum Receives COVID Grant from Connecticut Humanities
The Connecticut River Museum has received a stat grant that will allow it to carry through the spring season. The museum is currently open, though with reduced building capacity and COVID safety protocols in place. (Photo courtesy of the Connecticut River Museum )
The first months of the New Year are looking up for the Connecticut River Museum (CRM).
The museum recently received a $22,727.25 COVID relief grant from Connecticut Humanities (CTH), according to a press release from CTH.
The grant will help the museum “cover payroll costs and basic operational expenses such as insurance and utilities,” CRM Executive Director Jennifer Carlson told the Courier by email.
The impacts of the pandemic on the museum have been numerous and include “decreased visitation” and “cancellation of school field trips, eagle cruises, and other onsite educational activities,” said Carlson.
A high percentage of full-time staff are partially furloughed and several of the part-time seasonal employees have not been rehired, according to Carlson.
With the museum facing “budget deficits from canceled activities, and the additional costs to pivot to new realities, the museum could have been facing layoffs or temporary closure,” said Carlson.
“The much-needed funding from this grant, combined with donations from our constituents, has allowed the museum to maintain current employment levels,” she said. “January, February, and March look a little less bleak now than they did a month ago.”
After a temporary closure last spring, the museum reopened for outdoor-only programming in late May, as part of Governor Ned Lamont’s first phase of reopening.
Under the current phase 2.1 of the governor’s state reopening, the museum’s indoor exhibits are now open with reduced building capacity from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Tuesday to Sunday. The museum follows COVID-19 safety protocols and guidance from the state.
“Thankfully, people are still visiting the museum, engaging with us on social media, and attending our online lectures,” said Carlson, who added that the museum’s goal is to bring “partially furloughed employees back to full employment between now and summer.”
Jason Mancini, CTH’s executive director, said in the news release that museums such as CRM are “vital and vibrant places in our communities that also need a bridge to the future.”
A total of 50 nonprofits received a COVID relief grant from CTH, funding for which was provided by the Connecticut Department of Economic and Community Development and the Connecticut Office of the Arts through the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act.
“This grant is definitely a big boon for us and I’m sure for the other museums in Connecticut as well,” said Carlson.
Carlson said she is optimistic about the museum’s future in 2021 and that she expects visitation to increase later in the year.
The museum is currently offering its annual holiday train show until Sunday, Feb. 14, with added safety precautions.
“We have limited the number of people on the exhibit floor to eight every half hour and have implemented pre-purchase through online ticketing to reduce congestion in the lobby,” said Carlson.
The museum’s next exhibit, Hands on the Land: Art & the Environment in the Connecticut River Valley, will feature 40 pieces of artwork reflecting concepts related to the impacts of humankind on the environment. It will run from mid-March through mid-October 2021.
In February, the museum will host a virtual speaker series, titled CRM Talks, with registration available at the museum’s website, ctrivermuseum.org.
Although taking what was previously an on-site program to an online platform is something new, Carlson said that the museum is reaping the benefits of engaging more people in different locales by going virtual.
“Now that everything is online, we can look for a wider range of speakers and then those speakers are bringing audiences that are familiar with them,” said Carlson. “So, we’re able to connect with a wider audience, which is great.”
In the press release, Lamont emphasized the importance of museums as “part of the tourism and culture sector responsible for thousands of jobs. It is vital that we sustain Connecticut’s museums through this pandemic.”
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