The Hay River Heritage Centre has opened its doors for drop-in visitors for the first time since 2019.
The museum opened for the season on June 12.
“We’re really pleased we’re able to open this year,” said Tom Lakusta, the chair of the Hay River Museum Society. “We couldn’t last year and it was difficult.”
Lakusta said the heritage centre is looking forward to having a great summer with a lot of things going on.
The museum’s opening hours are noon to 4 p.m. from Wednesday to Friday, and 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday.
“Those are interim hours,” said Lakusta. “As we move into the summer and we get more staff and more volunteers organized, then the hours may change later. But these are the hours for now.”
While the museum was not open at all last summer for drop-in visitors, it did offer guided tours by appointment.
“We will still offer up the tours, because they were so popular last year,” said Lakusta. “People really enjoyed having a guided tour.”
As for why they were so popular, he said, “I think it’s the interactive element of having somebody that works at the museum walking with you as you go and see the different exhibits and providing information to you as you look at an exhibit. And then you can have an interaction with them. Maybe ask a question. People like that. They like the human touch.”
This year’s opening hours have been approved by the GNWT under its Covid-19 restrictions.
Up to 24 people will be permitted in the museum building at one time, including anyone working there.
Lakusta said that the limit of 24 people is more than enough to accommodate visitors.
Since there are still travel restrictions at the NWT/Alberta border, the society chairperson doesn’t expect many visitors from the South this summer.
“However, we think that the people of the Northwest Territories that have seen the museum for the first time liked it,” he said. “We are looking forward to people coming through from Yellowknife and Fort Smith and other communities, in addition to the people in Hay River who have found a reason to visit the museum several times a year. So we will try and make sure that those visitors enjoy their experience, and we’ll continue to try and grow the exhibits and grow what we show people about our community.”
The Hay River Heritage Centre is a seasonal operation and is normally closed during the colder months.
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