Spring-Summer 2022 update from the Chair of the Museum, Chris West.
It’s high summer and the days are glorious. I hope you are taking full advantage, particularly in, on and by the beautiful waters of the Great Lakes. Whether you swim, fish, paddle, sail, picnic at the beach, stroll along the shore, or simply sit and take in the rising and setting planets across the water, you are connecting with the essence of life on earth. Seize those moments!
In my conversational travels, I occasionally run into those who are doubtful about the progress the Marine Museum is making. Typically, they are not very familiar with the actual story of our recovery from a near death experience and the astounding progress we have made since. To be fair, the fault for not doing a better job of communicating that story lies with us, not our skeptical interlocutors. To that end, I want to assure you that your Board and Staff are fanatically committed to broadening our reach – via all available media – and making new friends (and potential supporters) every single day.
Here is what I tell those potential new friends and supporters. The Marine Museum is like a blue chip stock. If you look at it on any given day, or month or year, you may conclude: “Nothing’s happening.”
But, let’s look out over the past six years and see how this blue chip has actually performed. In 2016, as tenants of the Federal government, we had no control over our fate when the Feds said they were selling our site out from under us. Nor did we have any sway when the new owner chose to evict us that same year. Our balance sheet was under $100,000. We were out of operation and homeless (apart from a tiny “store front” location leased from the City).
Fast forward: Three years ago in the summer of 2019 we bought our derelict property back. We became masters of our own domain. Not only did we raise the money for the purchase of the property, we successfully fundraised over $600,000 to bring in the trades to get it operational again. Everything, the heat, light, plumbing, A/C and so on, had to be restored … and this was during COVID. In tandem, an army of volunteers contributed 1,000s of hours towards painting and refreshing every nook and cranny. By the fall of last year, the Museum was once again in operation and as you have read in our newsletter, rolling out programs equal to and arguably surpassing what we were producing prior to the eviction. Not insignificantly, the balance sheet is now over $4 million, and last week we finally moved the last of our massive collections back to 55 Ontario Street from City-owned storage units.
That’s how a blue chip typically performs. It’s like watching the proverbial paint dry or the grass grow. But, the progress is inexorable over time. Yes, we have many mountains to climb, but climb them we will, with your incredible help and good faith.Thank you, All!
Chair of the Board