After one year of the completion of the Living Evolutions project, the Exploration Place is forging ahead with a new strategic plan, titled Convergence.
“The whole plan is about creating relationships, if you boil it down to one word, that’s what it is,” said Exploration Place CEO Tracy Calogheros, who has been in a leadership role with the museum for 20 years.
“It’s relationships with our visitors, with our staff, with our funders, with our communities, and so some of the key pieces relate to exactly that, pieces around reconciliation, around financial stability and sustainability, that is always a challenge for a charity and the museum is no different than any other coming out of covid, and it’s about increasing our reach into the community through programming.”
To craft the plan, visitors, members, staff members, and donors were surveyed on a number of different topics.
“The number one finding from almost everyone was they valued the work we were doing on the calls to action from the [Truth and Reconciliation Commission],” Calogheros said.
“Right up there with that were our animal ambassadors, and our goal to become an accredited zoo so we can bring some slightly larger animal ambassadors in to be able to engage kids. Those two key pieces were very important to everyone right across the survey spectrum.”
According to the survey of visitors and members, most visitors go to exploration several times a year (34.3 per cent), just once per year (21 per cent) or every few years (17 per cent).
Calogheros said staffing and programming is the key to getting more people to come back more often.
“Getting Steve back as our lead in visitors services is like a magic bullet that way, he is incredible with our visitors and they come back simply because he engages them,” she explained.
“The next piece of that is having events, whether they are member driven events like Christmas or teaching kitchen classes, which will be launching in the next two days, I think that’s how you bring people back down.”
She added travelling exhibits and changing talking about what’s on the floor also matter.
“I think some of the things around rethinking the Ted Williams History Centre, which will focus on some of the post-contact groups like the Chinese Community and the South Asian Community, the Black Community for that matter,” she said.
“We haven’t done a very good job there, and when people see themselves in a museum space, and in its program and its staff, they naturally are more willing to partake.”
The new strategic plan will guide the museum for the next five years.