VICTORIA – B.C. museums threw their doors open on Wednesday, letting people in for free.
The museums were celebrating International Museum Day, an event that included 30 thousand museums worldwide.
The Province of B.C. also recognizes the importance museums play in our culture, so much so they’ve been giving one organization a free ride.
People were lining up to get into The Maritime Museum of B.C. today, but it’s not always busy.
Over the past few years, the organization says attendance has been down at the former Victoria Courthouse in Bastion Square, way down at around 12 thousand people a year.
As the organization struggled to survive it stopped paying rent to its landlord, the Province of B.C.
It says it tried a couple of times, but couldn’t keep up with the payments, then a year ago the museum says “The government got tough and said ‘look you guys, either pay up or ship out!” says Executive Director Martyn Clark.
The museum says it recently came to a new understanding with its landlord, 10 thousand dollars a month, plus a percentage of ticket sales.
“All back records of rent are going to be wiped out”, says Clark “Depending on who you talk to, it was somewhere in the neighbourhood of several hundred thousand dollars or even over a million”.
The province says rent wasn’t forgiven, but it acknowledges since 2006 it paid maintenance costs for the building more than one million dollars.
“The Maritime Museum was one of three applicants applying for a lease in the steamship terminal building that is currently undergoing a multi-million renovation.
But how can the museum pay the rent there when they couldn’t pay in its current location?
The museum says the move to the prime inner harbour location would bring in more people.
“if you figure 135 thousand (people) at 12 bucks a head that’s a lot of money”, says Clark.
The museum acknowledges wherever it ends up, it has to change course and increase attendance.
The organization begins an aggressive marketing campaign tomorrow – hoping its next 60 years will be smooth sailing.
Follow Stephen Andrew on Twitter – http://www.twitter.com/ANewsStephen