As we reflect upon the unprecedented year we have experienced together, Living History Farms is filled with gratitude. This year presented many challenges, but it was also filled with many blessings.
After many years of planning and focus on improving the visitor experience, Living History Farms was awarded museum accreditation from the American Alliance of Museums. This puts us in elite company with only 3 percent of all museums in the country meeting the commitment to standards and best practices in our field. The timing of this award came as we celebrated our 50th anniversary as a living history museum.
Indeed, we are living history each and every day as we confront the realities of the world-wide COVID pandemic. Unlike many other arts and culture non-profit organizations around the nation, we were able to re-open our doors after a two-month shutdown by the state government. Other museums have not been as fortunate. In fact, a survey by the American Alliance of Museum indicates that the pandemic may claim the closure of nearly a third of all museums in this nation. When I think about how integral Living History Farms has been in educating hundreds of thousands of students in our 50-year history, it is virtually impossible for me to imagine our community without Living History Farms.
While we long for the days of our “old normal” we are working diligently to continue to provide opportunities for learning both virtually and in-person. Last summer, we successfully hosted more than 650 kids for in-person summer camp, thanks to all of the new safety measures and cleaning protocols we put into place, without incident. We even hosted guests from 40 states around the country who came to tour. We immediately began cost-savings measures and secured a PPP loan to allow the staff to provide the best visitor experience possible. Yes, we have met many challenges this year head-on, thanks to the generosity of our donors, members, and community.
Because of you, we are not done yet! We are grateful that we have been able to serve our community for the past 50 years and we look forward to doing so for the next 50 years, even as we explore new and alternative ways to fulfill our mission.
It is a privilege for Living History Farms to continue to serve our mission to education and entertain people of all ages about our shared agricultural heritage. Thank you so much for giving us the latitude to try new programs, develop virtual outreaches and continue to provide in-person programming in appropriate, safe and socially distanced ways. I hope you will join us for an upcoming event, Historic Dinner, or historic skills class and come to tour the museum in 2021. We always look forward to having you here!