March 29, 2020
RE: COVID-19 Pandemic and Our Museum
To our friends and patrons:
These are unprecedented times. In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, our Board shares the same feelings as everyone else—uncertainty, anxiety, and fear are just some of these emotions. As things stand, we are watching the situation unfold and, like you, taking things day-by-day, week-by-week. We apologize for the recent radio silence on our social media: we felt time was needed to process things, to grow accustomed to new surroundings and realities.
Fortunately, the Conception Bay Museum is a seasonal operation, typically running from May until September, and COVID-19 has not directly impacted our tourism operations (yet). However, much work went into planning a spring fundraiser, which would have significantly contributed to our operational funding. When the situation escalated globally two weeks ago, we decided to pause the promotional rollout for this event; in hindsight, this decision was wise. In ways, we can all learn from such patience: that is, the decisions we make today—right now—will have lasting impacts in the days, weeks, and months ahead. At this time, it’s imperative we think about our friends, families, and the most vulnerable in our communities.
2020 is a special year for us: it represents the 150th anniversary of the construction of the old Customs House (1870), our building, and the 50th anniversary of the Conception Bay Museum Association (1970), our Board. To celebrate this landmark, the Government of Newfoundland & Labrador’s Department of Tourism, Culture, Industry and Innovation (TCII) granted us significant funding to launch a professional anniversary exhibit. We’re happy to announce we’ve contracted a talented individual, Melanie Lethbridge, to design this exhibit space for us. Despite the circumstances—we certainly didn’t want to announce the project this way—this initiative will continue and be available when the provincial, national, and international situation is resolved. We wish to thank Melanie and TCII for believing in this project and moving forward with us, despite these uncertainties. When the pandemic is over, we believe such investments, such strong commitments to community groups generally, and in the realm of arts, heritage, and culture particularly, will help us heal, grow, and prosper again. Our planned calendar fundraiser will continue, too.
Finally, we would like to end on a positive note. As a community, we have dealt with similar traumas, from cholera, smallpox, and polio epidemics to three ‘Great Fires’ in our town. During the latter events, a look in the historical record reveals the scale of the mobilization needed to rebuild the town—hundreds of small and large donations from locals, expats, and those with no direct link to Harbour Grace. And our community isn’t alone in these historic misfortunes. A similar sense of collective solidarity will be needed in times ahead; and as any student of history will tell you, a look into the past often reveals valuable compass points.
We strongly urge everyone to abide by provincial and federal protocols relating to the COVID-19 public health emergency and recommendations by the World Health Organization (WHO). Please avoid gathering in our park or at the Colston’s Cove Stairway until further notice and maintain social (physical) distancing when outside.
Stay positive, stay safe, and stay home,
– Patrick J. Collins, Chair