Museum visitors, revenues increasing

Moving into the Vancouver Island Conference Centre on Commercial Street has had a positive impact on the Nanaimo Museum's bottom line.

Don MacArthur

Don MacArthur

Moving into the Vancouver Island Conference Centre on Commercial Street has had a positive impact on the Nanaimo Museum’s bottom line.

Debbie Trueman, the museum’s general manager, said since the museum opened at its new location on Commercial Street in July 2008, it has enjoyed steady increases in visitor traffic and revenue.

But this year, revenue is up significantly, she said – gift shop revenue is up more than 20 per cent in the first five months of 2011 compared with the same time period last year, venue rentals are up 20 per cent and program bookings are up about 80 per cent.

She figures the increases are largely due to downtown getting busier in general.

“Here we get street traffic, walk-by traffic,” said Trueman. “People who might not know it’s a museum, but see the shop. More people are shopping.”

More than 50 individuals and groups took advantage of the museum’s rental space this year, which Trueman attributes to word-of-mouth advertising – one event seems to generate two or three more bookings – and more events at the conference centre.

“We’re a little different,” she said, of the increasing popularity of the venue rental program. “People can visit the museum at the same time. It’s a nice location downtown with parking.”

As for the program bookings, Trueman doesn’t know why more teachers and parents are taking advantage of the educational programs the museum has to offer, but a two-week spring break might have a little to do with it – the spring break programs were almost full this year, while last year the programs were almost empty.

The big thing is that people are coming to the museum and using its services, she added.

Trueman said last year, the museum had about 34,000 visitors, although the Bastion closed for the summer for renovations. With the Bastion open for the busy summer season, she expects to get close to 50,000 visitors this year.

A little more than half of the museum’s roughly $550,000 budget comes from the City of Nanaimo, while the rest is revenue, various grants and donations and provincial funding, she said.