How quickly the world can go topsy turvy! After a very successful 2019, the museum started the new year firing on all cylinders. Collaborations with regional organizations throughout the Pacific Northwest were being expanded. As the range of history covered by our activities grew, a new name was chosen to accurately reflect this expanding scope of naval aviation history. Then Coronavirus brought operations to a dead stop. While the museum is closed until the restrictions on social contact are eased, museum leadership is continuing to work toward the future.
January and February brought a 29% increase in visitors over last year. Efforts to bring larger numbers of school age youth to the museum began to pay dividends with scout, day care, home school and private school groups touring the museum. More tours were on the books when we closed.
Through memorandums of agreement and other formal arrangements, ties with organizations such as the Friends of Sand Point/Magnuson Park, Seattle, Pacific Flying Boats. Victoria, B.C., and Soaring by the Sea Foundation of OR are growing. These developments have broadened the museum’s geographic area of activity and the naval aviation subject matter covered.
After careful consideration for the past year, our Trustees decided to change the museum name to Pacific Northwest Naval Air Museum to more accurately reflect the museum’s activities and historic focus. In his column, our Chairman, Jim Siggens, elaborates on the new name. As he explains, the transition will take time to complete. In this regard, see the Logo Contest advertisement elsewhere in Cat Chat. A $300 prize is offered for electronic only submissions received by 5 June 2020. The winner will be announced on or after 25 July 2020.
This growing momentum was abruptly halted by the pandemic. The museum closed on 15 March. Leadership immediately went to work via video conferencing to address short term challenges including the safety of volunteers and interns. Our monthly Speaker’s Luncheons for March and April were canceled. The speakers will be rescheduled. The 4th Annual Celebration of Flight Dinner and Auction will be rescheduled from 16 May to sometime next fall. Numerous community events in which the museum normally participates were canceled.
The longer term leadership focus is on financial sustainability. At our Annual Community Luncheon, we had reported that the Foundation is on solid financial ground. Little did we know how quickly we would be tested. Looking forward with the museum closed, we believe that the past careful conservation of funds will enable the Foundation to survive the current health crisis. Our landlord for the museum building and warehouse has offered to work with us on rents, the single biggest budget item. The Board of Trustees will be looking hard at our cash flows with an eye toward building a strategy to get through the next 12 months or more.
Part of that strategy will be realigning our major fundraisers. With the Celebration of Flight pushed back to fall, the annual Mid-Year Fundraising Appeal will take on greater importance this year. We know that these are difficult times for all, but hope that you, our supporters will be able to help bring the museum through this crisis. Together we can do it.