Fall is officially here and what a fall it has been! This season is normally a busy time for the Museum as summer camp ends, schools start to visit, preparations for our fall events go into overdrive and general museum attendance grows. However, this fall also included Hurricane Hermine and the closure of Tallahassee Tree To Tree Adventures for thirteen days as we installed a new continuous belay system.
We are still addressing the multitude of damages caused by Hurricane Hermine and are thankful those damages were not worse. Still, we have a historic building that will need to be rebuilt, a contemporary building that is damaged and closed until it can be inspected by a structural engineer and numerous other repairs needing to be addressed. We are currently in the process of working with our insurance carrier and their adjusters and getting bids from local contractors. We anticipate that repair costs will run into the tens of thousands of dollars when all is considered.
The installation of the new Quick Trekker Continuous Belay System went smoothly, the inspection of the new system and courses by the Department of Agriculture found no deficiencies and our staff have quickly mastered the new system and how to properly use it. This new technology will greatly enhance the safety of our clients and allow our Tallahassee Tree To Tree Adventures guide staff to focus more on creating engaging and memorable experiences through dialog with clients and taking photos, rather than constantly watching the clipping and unclipping process as they were required to do in the past.
The incorporation of the new continuous belay system also reinforces the Museum’s commitment to having Tallahassee Tree To Tree Adventures as a leader in the field of aerial adventure courses, which will only further support the reputation of the Museum and Tree To Tree Adventures to our current, potential and future visitors and support the destination marketing efforts of the Museum, Visit Tallahassee and Visit Florida.
We are also looking forward to our upcoming fall events including Halloween Howl (Oct. 21 and 22), Zoobilee (Nov. 4), Fall Farm Day (Nov. 12) and Market Days (Dec. 3 and 4). We are expecting strong turn-out for these events and encourage you to visit our website for more information and to buy your tickets.
A critically important challenge and opportunity the Museum continually addresses is how to create a museum environment that enhances and supports the reach and effectiveness of our educational mission. We constantly are asking ourselves how to: make our exhibits and programs more engaging and their content more relevant to the current lives of our audiences; what improvements do we need to make to our grounds and facilities to improve and update their look and functionality; how do we make a visitor’s experience more enjoyable through wayfinding, visitor services and retail offerings; and, how do we better meet the needs of our community and the audiences we are not currently serving.
These ongoing questions have resulted in the addition of our Jim Gary’s 20th Century Dinosaurs exhibit, Tallahassee Tree To Tree Adventures, the new wolf and panther exhibits, numerous upgrades to our facilities and grounds; increased investments in the caliber and numbers of staff available to serve our community and visitors; and, more importantly, these types of improvements will continue in the coming year!
As a result of these efforts, we have seen our attendance grow by 40% in the last two years, our economic impact to the community exceed 11 million dollars, a 45% increase in adults attending our workshops and an 8% increase in the number of children participating in our educational programs, the addition of over 300 new volunteers to our volunteer corps (1,220 total), 30% growth in our number of household members; and, a 100% increase in annual fund donations.
Reflecting the Museum’s accomplishments and improvements and in preparation for our 60th anniversary in 2017, we will also be launching a refreshed brand for the Museum in the coming weeks.
This brand refresh will reshape and strengthen the Museum’s current brand values. With a new logo, communications strategy and more appropriate visual identity the Museum will be better positioned to effectively serve the community in the ‘s future and will better represent the Museum’s growing vitality, value to our growing community and relevance to existing and new audiences.
None of the Museum’s accomplishments could have occurred without your interest, generous support and participation. The passion, skills, knowledge and hard work of our staff and Board of Trustees also ensure that the Museum’s path to the future is exciting, sustainable, innovative and accountable. Thank you all!