7 ways you can help cultural institutions survive their coronavirus closures

by Liz

As many of us stay home to reduce the spread of coronavirus, life feels upended in a lot of ways; normal routines are going out the door, we’re hunkering down instead of traveling for spring break, and many of the places we love are facing closure. 

In the spirit of the groundswell of support for mom and pop shops and local restaurants, we’ve also been thinking about the beloved cultural institutions that also need our help more than ever. 

Last week, the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, a bastion in the cultural world, projected a total loss of $100 million and closure until July. Closer to our home office in North Texas, we’re looking for ways to offer support to partners like the Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Garden and the Perot Museum of Nature and Science, which rely on revenue from memberships and daily attendees. 

The impact of coronavirus is going to be tremendous, the director of Dallas’ Office of Arts and Culture told The Dallas Morning News.

“It’s not just the price of admission,” Jennifer Scripps said. “It’s parking. It’s membership. It’s ticket revenue for special exhibits. It’s what they spend in cafes.”

Cultural institutions are the places where we learn and discover together as a community, where we grow and make lasting family memories. We can’t visit them in person right now, but if we want them to survive until we can, we’ve got to find ways to help them immediately.

So, we’ve rounded up a few simple ways to support them (featuring some of our wonderful partners). A lot of organizations need immediate financial help, so those are listed up top. But if that’s not in your budget, there are plenty of other ways you can support them while enjoying some of their programming from home. (Our team knows from personal experience how valuable that is with kids at home!) 

1. Buy a gift certificate: By buying a gift certificate now to use later, you’ll help organizations immediately. At the Dallas Zoo, that means money coming in now to help support staffing and providing the supplies and food they need to care for the animals, even while their gates are closed to the public. Give a gift certificate to someone special today or keep it to use in the future. Once the zoo reopens, you and your loved ones can spend a sunny day visiting the giraffes and Kuasa, the majestic tiger.

2. Become a member: Memberships typically offer exclusive benefits that enrich your life well beyond a single-day experience. As a member of the Perot Museum, for example, you’ll receive discounts and member-only hours. Each level of membership provides unlimited general admission to the science museum and more than 360 museums around the world. If you’re like us, you’ll want to cure your cabin fever with some travel once it’s OK, and you’ll have this perk to get you into science and art museums all over. Memberships at the Perot start at $95 for two people or $130 for a family.

3. Shop online: Stock up on pick-me-ups or send a friend a present to brighten their day. The Perot shop has everything from nature guides to astronaut ice cream that won’t take up precious space in your fridge. Or jazz up your wardrobe with fair trade jewelry from Heifer International, which supports artisans and contributes to Heifer’s mission of ending hunger – at a time it’s sorely needed.

4. Explore places virtually: Take this time to browse videos of spots you’d like to visit. Our suggestion? The National Soccer Hall of Fame in Frisco. Didn’t see Abby Wambach get inducted into the Hall of Fame last fall? Catch it here. Haven’t had a chance to visit in person? Check out how you can green screen yourself into the most famous moments in soccer history on your next trip.

5. Engage on social: Like, comment and share posts about your favorite spots. It’s an easy way to bring more awareness to them online. Keep up with fun updates on social media – the Dallas Zoo has a regular #BringTheZooToYou series featuring cute videos, like breakfast time at Penguin Cove.

6. Try – and share – their activities: Although we miss strolling the manicured lawns of the Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Garden, we can try to re-create a piece of it at home with their gardening tips. Whether you’re landscaping, planting a backyard plot or caring for a succulent to spruce up your work-from-home setup, they’ve got advice. You can also spend your time whipping up new recipes in the kitchen – this onion bacon jam only requires five ingredients, or if you need to use up your pantry full of beans, the Arboretum has you covered with recipes from last year like this white bean artichoke hummus. If you try the tips and recipes, share them with friends, it’ll get them thinking about how to support these organizations too! 

7. Sign up for educational emails: A lot of orgs offer great resources to keep your little ones engaged. The Perot Museum sends kid-friendly activities right to your inbox. Their Amaze Your Brain at Home series features animated videos with facts about nature and experiments using materials around your house! Visit the page and then sign up, so you don’t miss an update. It’s a great way to help yourself and give the museum a way to keep in touch, so they welcome you back when they reopen.