I am including here a portion of the annual report so that you can get an idea of what we have been doing:
The National Museum of the Turks and Caicos Islands is at a crossroads. Though as an institution the museum is only eighteen years old, the museum has reached a point where the museum must move forward to match the needs of the new dynamics of tourism and development that have come to define the Turks and Caicos Islands in the last decade.
On Grand Turk, the location of the current museum building, the cruise ship industry has become the primary driver of visitation. In 2006, the Grand Turk Cruise Port reported 136 ship calls and 295,000 passengers. The museum does not have a presence at the cruise port, nor any real advertising. Yet, we are receiving visitation of approximately 1% to 2% of cruise ship passengers.
Both visitation numbers and museum income have significantly increased. There has been an idea that more visitors will equal more shop income. This is not necessarily the case. In the second half of this year, the museum has tried to develop visitor statistics. On cruise ship days, average shop sales are between $1.50 and $3 per person. On non-cruise ship days, visitation is much smaller, but shop sales average between $20 and $40 per person. On cruise ship days, therefore, the museum makes the majority of revenue from entry fees and not shop sales.
Since September, strides have been made to increase the museum's involvement with the cruise ship industry. One of our approaches is to attract less visitors at a higher entry fee, rather than more visitors at a discounted fee. Beginning in December, the museum began a guided behind the scenes tour of the museum as part of the Taste of the Island excursion. This excursion is being offered exclusively to the Holland America and Regency cruise lines through a local tour operator. The per person charge for this tour is $12.
The museum has applied for three grants since June of 2007 and has been involved with grants for the continued search for the Trouvadore. The success of these grants will determine, to some extent, projects that will be completed by the museum during 2008. One of these grants, the “Be Your Own Curator” program was funded through the Pine Cay Project. This program is one which I had tried to develop in Ohio. I am thrilled that is was funded here in the Turks and Caicos. Over the coming year, the museum will work with specific teachers and classrooms to develop temporary exhibits based on work students complete in the classroom themselves using images from the museum collections.
In June and July, before coming to Grand Turk, I helped facilitate the application for a $75,000 matching grant from the American Association of Museums to provide training and equipment for an oral history initiative throughout the TCI. In October, we were notified that we had been chosen as an alternate but not directly funded. This should be seen as an indication, at least, that the museum can produce strong grant proposals that are highly competitive.
In November, a project to improve the indigenous arboretum established at the museum in the late 1990s was submitted to the UK Overseas Territory Environmental Protection grant.
Planning has continued on the development of the museum on Providenciales. Careful decisions have to be made concerning this development. Both the concept of the building, the concept of the exhibits, and the new museum’s placement within a wider visitor strategy on Provo must be definitely determined.