National Great Blacks in Wax Museum gears up for summer tourist season | Way of life
Now that the city of Baltimore has lifted more of its pandemic restrictions, tourist destinations are working on plans to safely welcome more visitors this summer. The National Great Blacks in Wax Museum is one of those destinations trying to get back on the road to recovery.
According to Visit Baltimore, the nonprofit designed to market Baltimore as a tourist site, Baltimore lost “$ 7 million and more” in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The National Great Blacks in Wax Museum said 2020 saw a financial loss of more than $ 200,000.
Joanne Martin, owner and co-founder of the National Great Blacks in Wax Museum, admitted that when the museum closed in March 2020 due to COVID-19, she didn’t know what to expect and feared a growing deficit or, a clear indication of the impact of COVID-19 on our financial stability. “
The museum reopened on August 28, 2020 with an Emmett Till exhibit on the 65th anniversary of his murder. Upon reopening, Martin said the museum was more crowded than expected and a number of tourists said they were disappointed with the museum’s closing in March.
Martin said the museum is internationally known for its interactive programming. However, when reopening, this type of programming had to be suspended for reasons of social distancing and security.
Although the museum has seen an increasing number of visitors since it reopened, Griot In Residence Deborah Pierce-Fakunle said: “The number of visitors has decreased. Programming has certainly declined. We are unable to do a lot of things. “
Pierce-Fakunle added, “We had to improvise the programming and do it online, but it’s definitely not the same.” The Blacks in Wax Museum continues to operate in person and virtually as COVID-19 restrictions disappear.
“Typically there would be buses along North Avenue and that certainly wasn’t the case due to protocols and people who are afraid to travel,” Martin said.
Security concerns have also prevented the museum from hosting its annual street fair in the 1600 block of North Avenue, usually scheduled for the last Saturday in February. The museum street fair normally consists of performances from partner youth programs, community organizations, vendor kiosks, performances, music and food.
Martin said being unable to host the street fair due to the pandemic made a difference. “When COVID-19 shut us down, it shut down these opportunities for vendors and the community as well,” Martin said.
Darren Rogers, founder of I AM MENtality, a Baltimore-based nonprofit committed to helping young people become leaders through mentorship, said access to places like the National Great Blacks in Wax Museum is an important resource, especially for young people in Baltimore. His group visited the museum.
“It was an amazing experience. We enjoyed it for a lot,” Rogers said. He added compliments about the tour guides for their in-depth knowledge, which helped his students better understand black history and their self-esteem as black youth.
Martin said this was the reason the museum was working hard to prepare for summer visitors, as more people are getting the COVID -19 vaccine and feel more comfortable traveling. Museum protocols still require visitors to wear masks. Social distancing guidelines remain in place so that visitors have an experience that is both educational and safe.
The National Great Blacks in Wax Museum accepts virtual and in-person tours at set times through the museum’s website, greatblacksinwax.org.
Museum opening hours are Thursday to Saturday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday 12 p.m. to 5 p.m.