$8M loss threatens to temporarily close Science World
At 300 visitors a day, traffic is down 88 per cent and not sustainable, company says
Science World has been hit hard by the pandemic losing $8.2-million — 85 per cent of its revenue — since March.
It's a loss that is threatening to close the non-profit, hands-on science museum's doors, at least temporarily.
The interactive attraction housed in a glittery disco ball-shaped home at the end of False Creek is usually the go-to place for parents and teachers on a rainy spring-break day.
Last spring, Science World was forced to close on March 14 due to the rise of COVID-19 infections. The operation reopened, but since August traffic has been slow.
"A massive blow for us obviously. We rely heavily on our visitors coming through the building," said Teresa Virani, vice president of marketing and visitor experience for Science World.
The museum which opened in 1989 offers visitors a myriad of stations where they can touch and experiment with objects to learn about science. School trips often end up at Science World.
Back in July, Science World launched a catchy "The world needs more nerds" campaign featuring a school photo of Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry at seven, looking very earnest in spectacles.
But since reopening in August, traffic has been down by as much as 88 per cent, with an average of 300 people walking through the doors each day.
"That's just not sustainable for us long-term," said Virani.
Science World staff got creative and has been lauded for efforts to revamp the hands-on fun so it's safe, despite the threat of COVID-19. Visitors book tickets in advance and are offered a timed entry to keep crowds low. Masks are mandatory (if you are over age six) and there are enhanced cleaning protocols.
Families are invited to Towers of Tomorrow, encouraging visitors to build Lego towers with pre-sanitized blocks in a well spaced environment.
"The good news is that people who are coming are having a great time. We've received high praise for our health and safety measures," said Virani.
Despite concerted efforts, the crowds have not returned. Virani says Science World has laid off 40 part-time staff and may need to let more go.
If the numbers don't pick up and no further funding is found — through government funding or donations — Science World will be forced to close, at least temporarily.
"We are hoping that the government will step in further, and we appreciate that there's many people in the same situation," she said.
As of this week, Science World has reduced its hours and will now only be open Thursday until Sunday.