WESTLOCK – The Canadian Tractor Museum in Westlock opened on Monday.
Like all other places, physical distancing is required. There can be no more than 15 people in at a time, but executive director Annette Schwab says that’s not a problem for the museum – usually, they only get that many people during events, but those have been cancelled for this season.
“We’ve spent the last three years building these wonderful annual events so we could expose the museum and we could give our visitors these amazing opportunities. This year, we got shut right down on every single one,” she said.
The children’s section has been removed too, with only a couple of metal toys left – they can be disinfected.
“We’re basically following what everybody else has been doing and what we’ve seen in the media and in the recommendations that are coming down through the Alberta government,” said Schwab.
There’s been a little difficulty finding students for the two summer jobs they offer.
“Because of COVID-19, students just aren’t reaching out to us for employment,” said Schwab, who brought in last year’s summer student, Jenelle Hintz, for the same position.
The second is still open and remains to be filled.
“I’m actually pretty glad (the museum is opening). In the museum, you’re not supposed to be touching stuff anyway. If we all follow the social distancing regulations, I think that we can have a pretty good summer this year,” said Hintz.
In the meantime, Schwab is shifting focus from in-person events to online-based ones. Tractor Talks, one of the museum’s most popular and well-attended events, had to be cancelled, but demand for it had to be satisfied somehow.
“I highlight one of our collection every Tuesday and it goes on our Facebook every morning. We’re working on some audio tours. I have a really good volunteer, so we’re going to go up and down the aisles. We’ll do several (five minute excerpts),” said Schwab.
More content is also going on the museum’s website, and a YouTube channel is in the works.
Since, as Schwab put it, 15 people don’t come into the museum on the best of days, the restrictions shouldn’t make much of a difference.
“We’re looking forward to a very normal, average summer with the exception of big events, and we’ve lost a lot of that funding that comes with big events,” said Schwab.
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