Really well, as a matter of fact
“Key performance indicator.” That’s business lingo for measuring how well we’re doing. Unlike many of the Bank’s departments, it’s easy to measure the Museum’s success: visitor numbers. Not to brag (Ha, who am I kidding?) we had 2,823 people visit the Museum on Canada Day. The following Sunday and holiday Monday yielded a further 933 and 756 visitors, respectively. Visitorship has stayed extremely healthy since then, averaging between 350 and 400 visitors a day. For the month of July and the first three weeks of August, that adds up to just over 25,000 visitors (wow). As an unfair comparison, the Currency Museum (as the Museum used to be called) pulled in just under 9,000 visitors for the same period in 2012. I say “unfair” because Ottawa had an unprecedented influx of tourists this summer. There was just so much going on. One day this month we recorded a whopping 902 visitors when “La Machine” roared through the neighbourhood. So, it would seem that when a giant, fire-breathing mechanical dragon-horse battles a two-story-tall spider near the Museum, it’s a boost for our attendance numbers. Or maybe it was our fine display of share certificates that was the draw. There’s just no way to tell.
Complicating these straightforward statistics is the attendance we recorded at our information kiosk on both Canada Day and Colonel By Day. Together, the two events drew 4,300 people to the kiosk. If you add this to the visitors in July, nearly 30,000 people (from all over Canada and the world) know we are here and have taken an interest in us—if only a mere 25,000 actually visited the Museum. It’s all good, and we couldn’t be happier with our first few weeks of business.
One key feature of the Museum was not available during these few weeks: the gift shop. Every museum needs a gift shop; it’s a traditional part of a family visit, but ours wasn’t going to be ready for opening day. We opened the doors at 10:00 on August 22. OK, it wasn’t Black Friday at the mall, but a very respectable number of visitors perused the items on the shelves on what turned out to be a miserably rainy day. We hit our targets on the following two days.
So, what’s the key performance indicator for the gift shop? To have a respectable day, the number of transactions should equal 8 per cent of the number of visitors to the Museum. This sounds pretty paltry, but the gift shop is not mandated to turn a profit. Its purpose is more closely related to the Museum’s mandate. The gift shop is a last chance for visitors to ask questions and to solidify or broaden their experience. It’s one more space for conversations about the Bank and the economy and is considered an “experience augmentation.” However, we still want you to buy stuff!
I will say again just how happy we are with our first few weeks of operation. The good reviews are rolling in, and we’re already well on our way to meeting our visitorship targets for 2017. Yay!
Before the museum closed for renovations on 2 July, technicians began to remove the heavier artifacts in late May. First to go was the strong box. Built of ¼” thick welded steel plates, this trunk was used by the Bank of Upper Canada in Toronto between 1821 and 1866.
Most of us know the first part of Alexander Graham Bell’s take on opportunity: “When one door closes, another one opens…” What we often don’t recall is the second half of that quote, where he says: “…but we so often look so long and regretfully upon the closed door, that we do not see the ones which open for us.”
The Staff of the Currency Museum was saddened to learn of the passing of artist Alex Colville who died on 16 July at his home in Wolfville, Nova Scotia. He was 92. One of Canada’s most celebrated painters, Colville is not as well-known as a sculptor but if you look carefully through your pocket change you might just find an example of his work.
The roots of the Currency Museum go back to 1959 when the then Governor of the Bank of Canada, James Coyne, proposed the idea of establishing a currency collection that would reflect the colourful monetary history of Canada. By the time the go-ahead was given in 1963 by Coyne’s successor, Louis Rasminsky, the collection’s mandate had been expanded to include world monetary history, banking and production artifacts and a numismatic library.