The museum and science centre closed in March when the COVID-19 pandemic hit.
At a June 30 meeting, the group decided that an extended closure is necessary for the health and welfare of the community. The closure will also allow the centre to undergo a much-needed renovation which will enhance The Exploration Place’s ability to offer a world-class experience right here in Prince George.
“In a time of crisis individuals turn to their community institutions for information, inspiration and support,” said Shauna Harper, board co-chair, “The Exploration Place has continued to provide steady leadership in these unprecedented times while reimagining what Hands On Discovery Learning will look like post-COVID.”
“Truth be told we’ve never actually stopped delivering our world-class programming,” said Tracy Calogheros, CEO. “Our pivot to online was almost instantaneous and it’s getting better every day.”
Tens of thousands of you have engaged with the centre online since it closed the building on March 13.
It will continue to offer you new online experiences; is launching its online Nature Exchange and Speaker Series this summer; is offering free in class school programs starting this fall all over northern B.C. and is upgrading its obsolete collections database to a brand new system this winter. The gift shop is available for curbside pick up and it is still selling non-medical masks to help keep us all safe.
Staff are working in the building, renovating the galleries, access points and interpretation. They are planning to offer a large, indoor botanical palaeo-garden and a major expansion to the Animal Ambassador Program and Biome that will explore climate, evolution and what tools we have in our history that can be used to inform our future. The Exploration Place will reconfigure the Ted Williams History Hall with more room for in-house exhibits drawing on our collection and archives of over one million entries, and they will be creating new space to showcase indigenous material culture and traditional ways of knowing.
“I can’t express to everyone just how much we miss all of you,” said Calogheros. “Everything we do here at The Exploration Place is about our community and our future leaders. We had been working towards a major refresh of our galleries for several years, our last major overhaul was in 2000 so it just makes sense to do that work now.”
The centre will not be offering the Early Explorers Preschool or Fort George Explorers After School Care Programs this fall.
“This part of our physical closure is particularly devastating to me,” said Calogheros. “We have been offering camps since 1996 and out of school care since 2001. However, the very same environment that makes those programs unique is working against us in a world where high-touch surfaces and closed air handling systems are unsafe.”
“Science, culture and history have never been more important to our society, we will get this right,” said Calogheros “Please stay healthy, wear your masks and stay in touch. We will get through this together. We can’t wait to see you again.”