By Andrea Klassen with Gary Dyck
With the recent Health Orders in Manitoba similar industries like retail businesses, restaurants and bars, sports and recreation facilities, and community, cultural, and religious gatherings, and even higher-risk indoor venues like gyms and fitness centres, have been permitted to open at 25% capacities, while museums continue to be closed. The Mennonite Heritage Village (MHV) calls upon our government to reconsider its decision to close museums.
The continued closure of our museums creates serious financial hardship during a period where our industry has already been severely hit. Museums have repeatedly been closed throughout 2020 and 2021. With each wave of the pandemic, however, museums have been permitted to open within the first phase of re-opening. For most museums in Manitoba, and especially for our outdoor-based organizations, the season in which we generate the majority of our revenue begins May 1 and ends September 30. This continued closure of museums until August is occurring during this peak revenue-generating season, potentially leaving our organizations with just two months (August and September) to generate income and hire appropriate staff in this important peak season. This latest decision to keep museums closed to the public indefinitely places our organization’s ability to be financial sustainable for the 2021-2022 season in jeopardy.
Museums are spaces that promote well-being among individuals and the community. It has been documented (by Dr. Helen J. Chatterjee, 2013) that museums provide:
- Positive social experiences, leading to reduced social isolation.
- Opportunities for learning and acquiring new skills.
- Calming experiences, leading to decreased anxiety.
- Increased positive emotions, such as optimism, hope and enjoyment.
- Increased self esteem and a sense of identity and community.
- Increased opportunities for making meaning.
- Positive distraction from clinical environments.
In addition, outdoor museums offer major outdoor components that could provide safe, outdoor spaces in which our community could gather while adhering to public health restrictions. The continued closure of museums undermines the ability of our organizations to offer our positive spaces of healing and recovery.
To the reader: please let your MLA know that you would like museums to reopen. Every day we have families and individuals come to our outdoor museum only to be disappointed. Also, show your support by making a donation to MHV, currently we are raising money to restore our Chortitz Housebarn and if we don’t raise 50% of the cost we will lose out on a $22,000 government grant. It is not easy to raise money when you cannot be open. The good news is our Village Books & Gifts is open seven days a week and our Livery Barn Restaurant is open for lunch Thursdays to Sundays.
- Village Books & Gifts remains open seven days a week! Museum grounds and galleries are closed until further notice.
- Livery Barn Restaurant open Thursday to Sunday starting at 11am for lunch. Dine-in, patio or take-out are all available.
- Mennonites at War Exhibit Premier and Fundraiser is cancelled. Please donate online. Currently, the exhibit is unable to open due to Manitoba Health restrictions.
- Mennonites at War Speaker Series, July 20, 7:30 p.m. Dr. Aileen Friesen will be presenting “Revisiting the Mythologies: Russian Military Service and Mennonite Migration” in this online event. Join on our website, www.mhv.ca/events