Museum sees dip in 2014 visitor numbers

The Port Hardy Museum has seen a recent decline in numbers

Port Hardy Museum Curator Jane Hutton gave a humourous and engaging presentation on the facility she manages to District of Port Hardy council May 12.

In 2014, the museum had 4,579 visitors which was down a bit from 2013, Hutton said.

The trend continued in the gift shop. Profits were way up in 2013 and down by about 25 per cent in 2014.

While the number of visitors was down, Hutton kept busy making over and planning various new exhibits.

Last April, she said, the museum had a temporary exhibit focused on prospecting and mining. This exhibit is now a permanent one.

The museum’s latest exhibit, focused on health care on the North Island, opened April 26. It will run until September.

“What we’re planning now for this next season is a short exhibit around Remembrance Day,” said Hutton said.

Another temporary exhibit currently in the planning stages will focus on textiles.

“I have borrowed a collection of children’s smock dresses” for the exhibit which is expected to open in November and run until next summer.

A small exhibit about the Carrot Campaign that resulted in Highway 19 being built to the North Island has been set up in the visitor area at the museum.

The Carrot exhibit is proving to be educational for those who wonder why there is a large carrot in Port Hardy’s oceanfront park.

“Oh that’s what it’s about,” they exclaim, said Hutton.

Over the last year, the permanent sea and First Nations exhibits were updated and the museum has been busy having some new display cabinets built and finding ways to make use of vertical space.

Hutton plans to renovate the commercial fishing exhibit.

The gift shop also received a makeover.

“Ninety-five per cent of what we have in there is First Nations art,” she said.

Despite last year’s dip, the museum has come a long way.

In 2005 when Hutton took over “we were in dire financial straits.  Board members used to bring me envelopes so I could mail letters,” she said.

Hutton also asked council about coordinating to celebrate the Municipal District of Port Hardy’s 50th anniversary next year.