One of the words we too often hear these days is “pivot.” Institutions like ours are constantly urged to be “agile” (another overused word) in reacting to the pressures of COVID-19 by pivoting to newer, safer, and more efficient ways of serving the public. I used those words myself last June when I wrote to you about how quickly and efficiently our staff members were developing new programs that would allow our visitors to enjoy Carnegie Museums from home. Those efforts were appreciated; here, for instance, is a response from a member to one of our online events:
“Just very thankful for these events during the pandemic, please PLEASE continue to hold them. It really feels like being at the museum, a place that I find comforting, stimulating, intellectually and emotionally rewarding.”
We could not ask for a stronger validation of our online offerings, but this feedback also reminds us that the success of those offerings depends on the incomparable experience of visiting the museums in person. Pivoting only works if you have something valuable to pivot from, and, in our case, the virtual experiences we offer work in part because they are both a reminder of, and a prelude to, something far more immediate and, frankly, real.
That’s why, even though we know that virtual programming is here to stay, and even though our dedicated and imaginative staff members are putting a tremendous amount of time and energy into expanding and enriching our online presence, we are even more strongly focused on ensuring the safest possible conditions and the richest possible experiences for those who are once again able to visit in person. Here is a sample of how visitors are responding to those efforts when they were asked, “What was the most memorable part of your visit?”
“The kindness of everyone making sure proper safety protocol was followed.”
“Spending some quiet time with my husband. The museums have always been a place of education and comfort to me as I’ve been attending them since I was a little girl. I think about that a lot when I visit now.”
“Being back in a place I feel at home in after many months.”
“It was our first real outing since stay-at-home orders lifted. It felt great to be out in an environment that was safe. The museums did an extraordinary job in communicating to us about measures in place.”
“I am reminded how rich we are in Pittsburgh by virtue of our outstanding museums.”
Whether you have been enjoying our museums virtually from home, have joined those returning for a physical visit, or are waiting patiently for the pandemic to subside, your friendship and support have been crucial to the ability of your museums to survive and thrive through the most challenging year in our 125-year history. You are the public we were founded to serve, and your commitment inspires our extraordinary staff to continue that service in ways both familiar and new.
President and Chief Executive Officer,
Carnegie Museums of Pittsburgh
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