We are opening again! Those four words are a wonderful result of a truly surprising and bizarre year. As we welcome you back, we anticipate a great year of new experiences, new educational opportunities, and a growing connection with our community.
And that all starts now...
It will come as no surprise to you that the COVID-19 pandemic has not been kind to museums and cultural organizations. For an entity like Maritime Gloucester, whose mission is based almost entirely on interactive engagements and hands-on learning, this past year has been crippling. COVID restrictions have closed our doors for 14 months! We are still going through the steps of Restarting, Rebuilding, and Reopening. Make no mistake about it, this will be a slow and deliberate process over the next few months. In some ways, our ability to get back to "normal" operations may take years. But THIS is not THAT story. THIS is a story of Restarting.
We are proud to have survived a year of tough decisions, and pleased to be coming back online. But what does that mean? As we planned for the reopening, we faced some serious considerations. Our systems were completely shut down and dormant, our programs have been delayed, altered, or postponed indefinitely, our aquarium animals were released or sent to other entities, and our staff had to rebuild and retrain. We realized after being back only 3 days that our multi-faceted campus needed a sound going over. Tanks needed to come out of their storage, water systems needed to be tested and cleaned, maintenance issues came to the fore, a thorough cleaning was required, a year's worth of storage issues had to be dealt with, and office systems needed to be revived. Maritime Gloucester needed to start from square #1.
We could not quickly get back to normal and, more importantly, we did not want to! "Normal" is not want we want to be. We want fun, engaging learning opportunities for all ages. We want sustainable programs for the next generation of kids to connect with. We want historical interpretation that makes people fall in love with Gloucester...just like we did. Just like we do every day. We want connections with our ocean, and our environment, and our heritage that captures the spirit and makes people feel inspired and involved. We do not want normal.
So Maritime Glocuester's comeback story starts this week. We have been knocked down, but we are brushing ourselves off. With a clear vision of what is possible we look forward to not settling for normal. There is much hard work ahead, and it will not be quick or simple. Check out the rest of this newsletter for more information on our upcoming tours, timeline for reopening, and exclusive experiences. There will be more to come in the next few weeks! We look forward to seeing you and saying, "Welcome Back."
In Anticipation -
Michael De Koster