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Aera in the Community Jan 13, 2022

Opening virtual doors to new opportunities

Aera Energy joins the community to help Ventura Museum turn pandemic closure into a time for growth

Museum of Ventura County docent Jeanne Hunt (top right) helps children find fossils in the museum’s newly renovated outdoor Children’s Garden.

Museum of Ventura County docent Jeanne Hunt (top right) helps children find fossils in the museum’s newly renovated outdoor Children’s Garden.

The COVID-19 pandemic closed the Museum of Ventura County’s physical doors temporarily in 2020 but opened virtual doors for new programming and expanded reach.

Treating the unexpected pandemic as a minor inconvenience and not a showstopper, the museum shifted its focus to developing virtual programs such as interviews with authors, entertainment, exhibits, virtual field trips, live broadcasts, and educational programs during the closure.

Corporate sponsors like Aera Energy make these online offerings possible for new audiences in Ventura County and throughout the country.

“Like everyone else we saw a dip in our revenue streams due to the pandemic,” said Eric Knight, development director for the museum. “Even though our museum is now open to visitors again, we quickly realized the virtual programming we offered wasn’t just a filler, it served a definite need. People can visit us and attend events from home without ever stepping foot in the museum. We spent a lot of time building a robust online program and can continue to provide it with the support we’ve received from local businesses like Aera.”

The museum saw a 20 percent increase of online visitors to about 120,000 during the pandemic. In 2021, about 3,200 students took part in live video-lessons and more than 44,000 viewers attended live-broadcast events or accessed pre-recorded video content.

Support from local businesses also means visitors will enjoy free admission through 2022 and funds the museum’s new monthly Family Fun Day program in partnership with the Agriculture Museum in Santa Paula and focus on art, history, and STEAM among other topics.

“It supports our ability to provide education and bolster our community engagement by reaching new family audiences from diverse backgrounds. We want families to realize that this is their museum, and we are welcoming them all in for a visit,” Knight said.

The first Family Fun Day is scheduled in February 2022 at the Agriculture Museum in Santa Paula. For more information, visit venturamuseum.org.

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