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More than 15,000 people visited the museum in 2017

Fort la Reine Museum experiences unprecedented annual attendance

By Brian Oliver, The Graphic

Portage’s Fort la Reine Museum saw a recording setting increase in attendance during the 2017 season. (File photo)

Portage’s Fort la Reine Museum saw a recording setting increase in attendance during the 2017 season. (File photo)

The increase in attendance Portage la Prairie’s Fort la Reine Museum has experienced in the last half dozen years is truly remarkable.

More than 15,000 visitors walked the museum grounds in 2017, a significant increase from when Tracey Turner, the museum’s executive director and curator, first took the reins back in 2011.

“We had a wonderful year. I’m incredibly proud of the numbers that we’re seeing and the achievement we have had in increasing our visitation at the museum,” says Turner. “At the end of the year, I think it’s always nice to reflect on the end of the season. (It’s a time to) take in how much you accomplished, what achievements and results you had, and set goals for the next year.”

An annual goal of Turner’s since stepping into her role at the museum has been to steadily increase attendance while offering interesting and immersive cultural experiences. Along with her team of trusted community volunteers and eager student workers, Turner and the museum have more than exceeded expectations.

The museum attracted less than 6,000 visitors combined in 2011 and 2012 – the month of October alone in 2017 crushed that figure, as over 7,000 people entered the grounds for events such as the Ghost Walk and Mystery at the Museum. Both are events that have experienced ample growth over the past few years, due largely to the ongoing efforts of museum personnel.

“We really expanded how much we were offering and expanded on performers,” adds Turner. “Change doesn’t happen overnight so when you start to implement change you learn what works and what doesn’t.”

It’s safe to say that Turner and company have a pretty good idea of what does work, as more than 8,000 visitors stopped by the Fort in 2015 and 2016 – nearly doubling the more than 4,000 visitors the museum attracted in 2014. But perhaps most impressive is the increase the Fort la Reine Museum experienced just this past year.

“What we saw this year was a 42 percent increase in admission (from last year), that’s huge,” says Turner. “I can’t speak for what other museums are seeing in terms of exact statistics but I kind of understand the trend and a lot of museums are struggling with their admissions.”

October has historically been a well-visited month for the museum so when its marquee events – Ghost Walk and Mystery at the Museum – were expanded to run over the course of two weekends, the influx in admission is understandable.

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