Visitation to museum rises 39 per cent 

Switch to admittance by donation in October contributed to increase

click to enlarge PHOTO BY MIKE CRANE / TOURISM WHISTLER - ADMISSIONS UP  Thanks in part to switching to admission by donation in October, the Whistler Museum saw a spike in visitation last year.
  • Photo by Mike Crane / Tourism Whistler
  • ADMISSIONS UP Thanks in part to switching to admission by donation in October, the Whistler Museum saw a spike in visitation last year.

As the Whistler Museum board narrows down the list of possible locations for its future permanent home, it can build on some positive trends from last year.

Perhaps the most significant of those was a 39-per-cent spike in admissions, with 6,257 visitors walking through the museum's doors in 2014.

"It's quite gratifying to see visitor numbers increasing," said John Hetherington, board president of the Whistler Museum and Archives Society (WMAS), speaking at the museum's annual general meeting last Wednesday, July 8. "Visitor numbers have been increasing quite nicely possibly due to increased signage on the stroll."

Switching to admittance by donation in October also contributed to the rise, with the three final months of the year averaging an 130-per-cent increase in visitation compared to 2012 and 2013. General admittance cost $7.50 prior to that.

In addition to exhibit visits, the museum attracted another 956 people through a range of events and programs. Including museum-produced events held around the community, the museum provided services to roughly 7,753 people in all last year.

While details remained scarce, Hetherington also revealed last week that the board is now considering two possible future locations for "a significantly enlarged" museum. The museum's collections and archives are currently housed in four portable trailers tucked behind the library on Main Street.

"It's premature to release any details but we're pursuing two entirely different strategies, and we're not sure which one is going to come to the fore," he added.

Last year also saw the departure of executive director Sarah Drewery. Former collections manager Bradley Nichols filled in on an interim basis before being named the new director several months ago.

At last week's meeting, Nichols spoke about the role he envisions the museum playing in the municipality's planned Cultural Connector, which is intended to link the village's various cultural facilities.

"We definitely want to be a part of its development," he said. "We eventually want to look into advertising with other cultural institutions in Whistler, as well as having the Cultural Connector connecting all of them together, which will be quite important to market Whistler as a cultural destination for tourism."

Among the historical institution's major achievements in 2014 were the cataloguing of the Whistler Question's negatives dating from 1978 to 1984, the cataloguing of Blackcomb Mountain Resort's photograph collection dating from 1980 to 1986, as well as the development of an exhibit commemorating the 100th anniversary of the PGE Railway first ushering visitors to Whistler (then known as Alta Lake).

The WAMS ended the year with a deficiency in revenues over expenses of $47,317, compared to a deficiency of $24,911 in 2014. The society's cash position at the end of 2014 rose to $154,702, from $79,821 in 2013.

The board has budgeted for similar operating results in 2015.



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