Attractions expand in person and online
The area’s attractions are starting to look like they are recovering from the pandemic, but they are using all the lessons learned to move forward cautiously and conscientiously.
“People are really ready to come back,” said Heather Wilson, deputy director of the Cameron Art Museum, who said many of the museum’s new members have joined us during the pandemic through virtual programming.
This virtual component will continue to be part of future programming despite the return of in-person events.
“Our virtual audience included lots of newcomers – lots of young people, especially since we’re free to CFCC and UNCW students,” Wilson said. “We find lots of ways to engage with the community and keep going. “
The Art Buzz series on Thursday evenings and Saturday mornings offers a free glass of wine or sparkling water to enjoy while creating a work of art with a local artist. Live music is back on Thursday evenings and Saturday brunch at CAM Café.
“It resumes. We are really busy. We have reopened since September and have spent many months serving the public, ”Wilson said. “Visitors say this is the first place they have been and feel safe coming here.”
The camps are already full for the summer and the families seem delighted to be back and to participate in the Second Saturdays of CAM Kids. In addition, CAM will have a new installation that represents the labor of children in the community who have completed art kits.
The kits were inspired by nature and landscape themes from the ongoing Robert Johnson: Safe Places and Elizabeth Bradford: A House of One Room exhibitions and are on display at the Pancoe Art Education Center for the summer.
Christine Lamberton, director of Burgwin-Wright House and Gardens, tells a similar story. Despite the site’s closure from March to September, authorities were still reluctant to reopen. Following all directions, they continued to be cautious about reopening, but “got busy right away.”
With the restrictions tightened, the museum saw a slight uptick during the spring break with “nearly 80 to 85 percent in terms of our numbers,” Lamberton said.
Even with a steady increase in the number of visitors, Burgwin-Wright plans to continue offering hybrid events with the ability to virtually participate in in-person events.
“Hybrid events will continue for the rest of eternity,” Lamberton said. “They have been very well received and allow us to reach other people who would not have been here otherwise – not to alienate and also to develop.”
The Burgwin-Wright House and Gardens are open Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Guided tours are organized every hour until 3 p.m. Virtual tours are available, as well as group and private tours.
The attraction will resume its lecture series in September. In the visitor center, there is an art gallery that features a local artist each month and a gift shop that features locally made goods. These, as well as the ever-blooming gardens, are free and open to the public all year round.
In addition to the in-person summer exhibits and programming, Cape Fear Museum virtual programs will continue to be available.
“Jorey Stories and Adult Programs will continue as Zoom programs for the foreseeable future,” said Barbi Baker, Museum Marketing Specialist. “We use a mix of virtual and in-person as a means of reaching out to the community and reaching out and enjoying it.”
This strategy has worked. Between March and April, the museum saw a 50% increase in visits, Baker said.
“We have certainly seen a steady increase in numbers since the start of the year. Each month gets better as confidence increases, ”said Baker.
The museum offers three Summer Shorts, interactive programs for small groups. These 60-minute hands-on educational experiences include: H20 Today, a Smithsonian program on how water is the lifeblood of the planet; Ready, Set, Science, a sports-oriented program; and Cape Fear Critters, which is offered in person or virtually.
Visits have been reduced to the Fort Fisher NC Aquarium, “not for lack of interest but because of the lack of school groups with capacity limitations and social distancing rules,” said Hap Fatzinger, director of the aquarium.
The pandemic has also encouraged the aquarium to implement lasting changes.
Fatzinger admits that some policies may still undergo changes, but one thing that won’t change in the near future, or maybe never, is the advanced ticket sales being implemented due to COVID-19.
Selling pre-booked tickets online was a strategy to meet strict capacity guidelines, but officials made the decision to continue using pre-booked ticket sales to “restructure what it looks like. visiting the aquarium, ”Fatzinger said.
With a large number of people visiting the aquarium on a daily basis, aquarium staff are hopeful that the spacing of visitors throughout the day will allow for a better overall experience.
“Similar to how you would visit movies before COVID, you need to plan appropriately and accordingly,” Fatzinger said. “Think about it, make your reservations and secure that time slot. “
Live aquarium programs are still on hiatus with the state, so “with little predictability” much of their “field programming” is not scheduled for the summer.
Current exhibits continue to grow and aquarium staff are ready to share them with visitors. Future exhibitions are under construction and development, but the timeline is still unpredictable.
“The timelines are shifted due to COVID, as well as supply and labor issues,” Fatzinger said. “It has been a challenge, but we are moving forward and working diligently to be able to share them with our visitors. “
He added: “We are delighted to welcome people back and we are delighted to interact with people on the ground. We are learning every day and we have been learning since March 2020. ”