The museum has missed its visitors just as much as the community has missed walking through the doors to experience exhibits, participate in programs, and interact with the most popular members of the team, the Animal Ambassadors. The museum closed to the public in March 2020 at the onset of COVID-19 and has remained closed as the building goes through the first major renovation to its gallery spaces since its expansion in 2001.
The museum was anticipating a grand reopening in the new year. However, COVID-19 once again threw us all for a loop by causing unavoidable supply chain, shipping, and trades delays, all of which would seriously impact a winter reopening. But after being closed to visitors for almost two years, the museum team knew they would have to be creative and find an innovative way to welcome back the community, even while in the middle of construction.
Out of this conundrum emerged an exciting new partnership between The Exploration Place and Pine Centre. As a first, the shopping centre has offered one of its for-lease spaces as a significant donation to the non-profit museum. The Exploration Place will open a pop-up location in Pine Centre on November 27, operating in this space until mid-April.
“We are thrilled to be partnering with The Exploration Place to help bring their valuable and exciting family experiences to our community once again. Having them at Pine Centre will provide a great service for the families of Prince George in a convenient location for all to enjoy. We look forward to seeing everyone partake in The Exploration Place’s incredible exhibits and experiences,” said Pine Centre Marketing Manager Jessica Brown.
The scaled-down museum in the mall will include exhibits, fun and educational programming for school-age kids, and a gift shop section with merchandise, including The Exploration Place’s in-house creations such as the well-loved Mr. PG plushies. The popular KEVA program will also be on site. All programs will require pre-registration, and COVID-19 protocols will be in place.
In addition, the museum will be unveiling its new branding and logo and will be launching its new website in the coming days.
“The whole world is tired and frustrated with the multiple stresses we are all enduring at the moment,” says Exploration Place CEO Tracy Calogheros. “Being able to welcome our community into a pop-up space is just so exciting for all of us.”
The featured national travelling exhibit in the museum gallery was slated to be Trailblazing: Women in Canada since 1867 from the Waterloo Region Museum. This exhibit explores how women have transformed Canadian politics, work, and everyday life. The exhibit was on schedule to arrive in time to set up for the pop-up’s grand opening. However, the recent tragic flooding and infrastructure damage in the Lower Mainland has delayed its arrival, and the exhibit now sits in storage in Vancouver with no estimated arrival date.
In the meantime, you can come down and enjoy a festive Christmas display (perfect for a photo op) featuring a ride-ready replica of Champion the Northern Hardware horse and trees decorated with ornaments from The Exploration Place’s Heritage Tree. The community version of a traditional family tree, the Heritage Tree houses a collection of community memories symbolic of Prince George citizens that have become a part of the museum’s permanent collection. There is still plenty of room for memories, and you are invited to come and take your place in the growing history of the museum family tree.
“Pandemic delays have bled into climate change crises, and it’s impacting everyone, including us,” said Calogheros. “The Trailblazing Women exhibit will be worth the wait, however, and in the meantime, you can’t go wrong with a Christmas picture on Champ!”
Both The Exploration Place and Pine Centre are excited to work together in a true partnership that will bring together the community of Prince George. During a time when it seems like we’ve all experienced nothing but change and uncertainty, they are thrilled to be able to bring back something fun, familiar, and engaging for families, especially during the busy holiday season.
The pop-up museum will open its doors in Pine Centre on November 27.