DENVER (CBS4) – The Denver Zoo and local museums closed once Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines and a Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment order called for large groups to stop gathering together in response to the coronavirus outbreak. But these institutions are trying to stay engaged with the public and help people make the most of the extra time they are now spending at home.
“Our gates are closed, we have minimal staff here, it is really animal care and a few essential staff members,” said Carlie McGuire, a public relations coordinator for the Denver Zoo. “So we’re doing what we can, we’ve setup Zoo To You, a virtual safari, where we are doing livestreams every day.”
Staff showcased some of the elephants on the first day of their Virtual Safari and went inside on Thursday because of the snow for their second day livestreaming to the public.
“It was really great, we had a lot of engagement, a lot of great questions, some kids were drawing pictures of the elephants and sending them in,” McGuire told CBS4. “It really lifted the spirits of a lot of people here and hopefully for those watching at home.”
The Denver Art Museum may be closed but you can still be a guest virtually by seeing the online catalog or using some of the teaching materials and lesson plans available on their website.
“How can we live in the world virtually in a manner that is you know as much of our personality and our purpose as if we were in the building,” said Nora Burnett Abrams, the Mark G. Falcone Director of MCA Denver. “We are so much bigger than our building.”
The MCA Denver has made access to its exhibitions online but has also started a social media campaign called #LetsMCA to encourage the public to create their own art and share it.
Abrams made the call last week to close the museum but wanted to make sure the institution still generated content and provided inspiration for their audience. The minimal staff needed visits the building to check on it but everyone else is working remotely. She spoke to CBS4 Thursday on a video call away from the museum.
“We’re not just showing content that we have, we are actually encouraging people to do something on their own, to be creative, to let their creative juices flow and to share that with us,” she said.
All of these Denver destinations rely on admission tickets for revenue. A major source of funding is now gone so donations will be essential to keep them operating as close to their standard levels.
“It does impact, obviously, our bottom line. So any support that we can generate is obviously is very meaningful,” Abrams said.
The Denver Zoo hopes people will think of the time they spend visiting virtually worthy of a donation similar to the cost of entering their grounds in another circumstance.
“We’re a nonprofit and we rely heavily on revenue via admissions, gift shop purchases, field trips, outreach programs,” McGuire said. “All of that has come to a halt.”