The opening of the Mosaic Backyard Universe and North Education Center in October 2019 was a major milestone for The Bishop Museum of Science and Nature. The wing was conceived to serve an audience we wanted to do more for—young children and their families. It provides a new resource for formal education and entertainment in the region. It also offers beautiful gathering spaces that can be rented for events, providing income to support our mission activities. The Museum’s mission is to engage and inspire learners of all ages; we protect, interpret, and communicate scientific and cultural knowledge of Florida, the world, and our universe.

We had wonderful momentum as 2020 began with increased attendance and plans for more programs and improvements throughout the Museum. Then COVID forced us to look at our mission from a completely different view—bringing the Museum into people’s homes rather than bringing students and visitors to the Museum. We are a nimble organization. Our temporary closure due to the pandemic began on March 17, and we were presenting virtual programs within just a few weeks and continue to make programs and resources available on our website.

The Museum re-opened with new protocols and updated experiences for visitors in June, and we continued our virtual offerings. Programs and exhibitions are now offered virtually and “in real life” at the Museum, which is very labor-intensive. While we receive excellent feedback from Museum visitors and virtual program participants, we anticipate that attendance will remain at roughly 30% of what it was in 2019 for many months to come, dramatically affecting our earned revenue. The opportunity to participate in the Advancing Mission Thrivability initiative was an incredible opportunity for The Bishop.

Discovery is at the heart of The Bishop, and the AMT process is designed to bring about self-discovery, making it an excellent fit at a crucial time. It provided our team with the ability to consider decision-making at the institutional level through a mission-centric and economically informed lens, helping us establish priorities with immediate impact. Creating the advancement packet was hard work, but it provided the solid foundation needed to look at our established habits with fresh purpose and perspective. The purposeful, guided discussions helped us focus and concentrate on important work during an incredibly hectic time. The process kept us moving, but deliberately and thoughtfully toward a strategic end goal.

We wanted to offer our thoughts here together because this was such a helpful, collaborative process. It allowed us to experience insights from our different perspectives as CEO and Trustee and work together to plan and problem solve. It also introduced the team to a new rigor and discipline to build a new pattern of behavior to take forward. We are in the midst of strategic planning, and our AMT work informs both content and process for that work.

We often say that our Planetarium programs “help you see the sky in a whole new light,” and working with Mike Oxman and Hannah Saeger Karnei helped us do exactly that.

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