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Science World, Vancouver Art Gallery prepare for reopening
VANCOUVER -- They closed their doors in mid-March as the pandemic took hold around the world. Now two major Vancouver attractions are making plans for reopening, but it will be months before visitors can return.
"We’ve discovered it was much easier, although traumatic, to close than it is to reopen," said Science World’s president and CEO Janet Wood. "We’re such a highly interactive organization. The kids come in and they run and jump and throw things."
The facility is taking its time to come up with a plan to reopen safely. "We are thinking in the August timeframe, and in that time we’re really looking at how do we ensure our visitors are safe when they come in," said Wood. "How do we have them flow around Science World, how do we ensure the right physical distancing, and at the same time, we want to ensure they have a fabulous time."
The Vancouver Art Gallery will have an easier time reopening. "The gallery is a place where you can’t touch objects anyways," said interim director Daina Augatis.
The gallery plans to reopen June 15 with a capacity of 250 people at a time and a timed, ticketed entry. "We’ve had the capacity of having several thousand people on a very busy day, so it's a huge huge drop in admissions for us. That’s something that we’re grappling with as we move forward," said Augatis.
Both attractions are heavily dependent on international tourists, who likely won’t be coming this year.
"So that’s going to definitely impact our visitor numbers, and then when we come to the fall, another big group for Science World is school kids. We usually have bus loads of kids pulling up in front of Science World, piling out and spending the morning or the afternoon here," said Wood. School groups seem unlikely to arrive in the same numbers this fall.
The federal government’s wage subsidy program is helping Science World pay its employees and stay afloat while the doors are closed. "We are doing everything we can to ensure we can survive. At the same time, once the subsidy ends, depending on our visitor levels, we only have a few months we can survive," said Wood.
Science World and the VAG are both counting on British Columbians to visit once their doors are open again. "We’re looking for local visitors to come and look at the collection that belongs to all citizens of Vancouver," said Augatis.