Sncəwips Heritage Museum is doing well, a month after reopening to the public. (Sncəwips Heritage Museum - Facebook)

Westbank First Nations museum doing well despite increasing COVID-19 cases

Sncewips Heritage Museum reopened on June 25

Westbank First Nation’s Sncəwips Heritage Museum has been thriving since reopening to the public a month ago.

The museum closed in mid-March, much like many businesses, galleries, organizations and facilities in the region, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The closure came just a few weeks after staff finished moving into the museum’s new space on Feb. 1.

Despite the closure, museum staff made the most of the time off by using social media to continue to bring learning to families, as students stayed home.

Museum assistant Coralee Miller said staff also took the time to figure out the new space during the closure.

“We wanted to make it more thoughtful, more dynamic. But we also wanted to make it safe by utilizing most of the floor space,” she said.

“We put directional arrows on the floor and we’ve put in hand sanitization stations. We have plexiglass barriers on the counters and bathrooms are not for public use, for safety.”

Miller added the museum’s new space is big enough that they were able to bring all staff members back and provide them with a safe work environment.

She said the number of visitors coming out to the museum has been steadily increasing since reopening last June 25, with 10 to 20 people coming in a week. But due to the recent increase in cases in Kelowna and some potential exposures in West Kelowna, she said people are reeling back and staying home again.

“The number of visitors was climbing, and then it went down again. But I’m happy with the number of people we’ve been seeing. We limit the number of people who come into the museum to six, and it’s been easier to do that lately.”

Miller said staff are encouraging people to visit the museum. Currently, they aren’t hosting large tours but she said museum assistants are still around to answer visitors’ questions.

The museum is open Monday to Friday, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., and entrance is by donation. Masks and gloves will be provided at the entrance.

For more information, visit Sncəwips Heritage Museum’s website.

READ: Sncəwips Heritage Museum to reopen later this month

READ: Westbank First Nation responds to recent uptick in COVID-19 cases

Twila Amato
Video journalist, Black Press Okanagan
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