Virginia Living Museum focuses on virtual fundraising

Newport News

NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (WAVY) – Like many organizations, the Virginia Living Museum in Newport News is working to find new ways to operate virtually and fundraise to make sure the facility will be around for years to come.

The museum’s executive director, Rebecca Kleinhemple, says funding is a big challenge right now, but in speaking with her, it’s clear she believes the museum will continue to thrive with the help of the community.

“The spring is traditionally a very busy, heavy season for us, between the school groups that are here for our state standard of learning correlated programs in the sciences, the spring break travelers who move through the region, and the local community and members who call this museum their second home,” says Rebecca. 

“All of those absences are very much hurting our budget right now. About 70% of our annual revenue is from those admissions and right now to date we are looking at approximately a $318,000 loss and forecast that to grow through the end of our fiscal year which is June 30 to be approximately $750,000.”

Rebecca says the Virginia Living Museum had to furlough 46 employees who are invested in the museum’s guest experience, admissions, store, sales staff, and more. However, she says she knows the community will continue to help.

“There is one thing I know definitely about the community of Newport News and the Peninsula as a whole. The Hampton Roads region is an extremely kind, giving community. It’s a great community to live in. We are strong because of the great corporate resources we have here. We’re strong because of an incredible military presence. We’re strong because the community builds organizations like the VLM because they want a great quality of life.”

Rebecca says the museum is working to get creative. She says it streams animal experiences and natural resource education daily. When the time comes to reopen, the museum will continue to sell tickets and memberships online. She says the museum will follow guidelines for face coverings and having guests move only one way through the building. The museum’s big fundraiser, the Otter Ball, is still on, but this year it’s virtual.

“We are creating an online auction and fundraising opportunity on and we’re going to culminate that with a live concert, a warehouse concert, on June 5, so maybe you might want to have a watch party at your home or in your driveway with us and enjoy a live concert and online auction and I think there’ll be some exciting things happening that night,” says Rebecca.

To participate in the Otter Ball, click here.

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