CARP – It’s been a year of challenge and change as Diefenbunker: Canada’s Cold War Museum executive director Christine McGuire takes a look back at the year of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“This time last year, our lives changed dramatically almost overnight,” McQuire released in a statement last Friday (March 12). “On March 13, 2020, the Diefenbunker temporarily shut the blast doors against an outside threat: COVID-19. Like many, we thought it might be for a couple of weeks. It was not. Together, we endured this unprecedented pandemic, but not without sacrifice and not without loss.”
Three-quarters of the Diefenbunker’s operating revenue comes from visitors and for four months, the blast doors remained closed.
“We struggled—but we endured,” McGuire said/ “Like many businesses and individuals, the Diefenbunker pivoted to an online, digital model. We found strength in looking for new ways to reach more people.”
By summer, as many parts of the region enjoyed a respite between pandemic waves, the Diefenbunker re-opened, the first museum to do so in Ottawa. The hiatus had allowed Diefenbunker staff to refresh the museum’s interpretive experience, resulting in new signage and wayfinding, as well as a new eight-language audio guide.
“Our artist-in-residence, Greta Grip, knitted her way through the pandemic, creating work for an outstanding exhibition about containment, protection, health and safety,” McGuire said. “Throughout this difficult year, we have been reliant, agile, and creative. The Diefenbunker’s excellent staff, volunteers, and board of directors not only survived this storm, but led through it. Our interpretive themes of isolation, fear and world tensions resonate with visitors now more than ever. As a community, a nation, we came through the Cold War with a new appreciation of engagement, connection, collaboration, and communication. So too, will we come through this pandemic. This past year, we have seen remarkable stories of people caring for each other. Likewise, your support has helped us pull through. I know you, like us, are here for years to come. As we continue to improve our facility and engage in new programming, every dollar matters. If your situation allows, I hope you might consider extending your support with a renewed pledge for the future. Thank you and take care.
If you would like to make a donation to the Diefenbunker: Canada’s Cold War Museum, you can do so here.