New dino show offsets 20% fall in museum visitor numbers

Stricter Covid-19 controls recently contributed to a more than 20% drop in Otago Museum visitors, but a new dinosaur show has since boosted numbers.

Otago Museum director Dr Ian Griffin said the museum had been operating normally at Covid-19 Alert Level 1 at the start of August, and many planned commercial functions at the facility had been booked by the museum’s venues team.

However, the return to Alert Level 2 restrictions, including stricter controls on numbers at gatherings, from August 12 resulted in overall visitor attendance falling more than 20% compared with the previous year, by the end of the tighter restrictions on September 20, he said.

And the reduction in permitted function attendance numbers meant many functions were postponed or cancelled, significantly cutting museum income, he said in a report prepared for an Otago Museum Trust board meeting this week.

However, the outlook had much improved since the return to Alert Level 1 last month and ‘‘extraordinary work by staff’’ meant a new touring Dinosaur rEvolution exhibition had opened a week early, in time for the October school holidays.

Over the first two weeks of the show, visitor attendance was up more than 15% on the same time last year, and income from paid admissions almost doubled.

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