Lake County museum planning 'DunnTV' to stay connected with audience
The museum dedicated to the history of Lake County and its people is looking to a more modern venue to increase its reach during what is expected to be a slow return to normal operations.
As it nears a limited reopening later this month, the Dunn Museum in Libertyville plans to add a dedicated YouTube channel to its mix of strategies to engage an audience it has been unable to serve in person because of the coronavirus pandemic.
The museum, operated by the Lake County Forest Preserve District at its headquarters, has been closed since March.
"We plan on opening Aug. 29, but we are restricted to having a maximum of 25% capacity," said Nan Buckardt, the district's director of education. "We are trying to figure out ways to stay connected."
All museum programs and field trips have shifted to virtual platforms through the end of the year and likely into 2021, according to information provided to the Preservation Foundation of the Lake County Forest Preserves, the district's charitable arm.
Donations to the foundation are used for various purposes, such as the summer concert series at Independence Grove and other forest preserve projects and programs that might otherwise go unfunded.
Though the museum at 1899 W. Winchester Road will be open, recovering to normal visitation will be a long and slow process, Buckardt explained to the foundation board Wednesday.
She asked -- and the board agreed -- that $6,750 in previously approved foundation grants for two museum exhibitions be reallocated for the YouTube channel. One of the exhibitions was curtailed and the other canceled because of the COVID-19-related closure.
"A dedicated YouTube channel will be an important tool for regular content delivery and it has the capacity to expand our audience significantly beyond our capacity for on-site visitation," according to a memo provided to the board.
The district will provide the balance of the estimated $10,000 cost of the "DunnTV" through its exhibitions budget. The foundation will be credited on the home page of the channel as a sponsor, and its website will be linked.
The channel will feature videos about the museum's collections and exhibits, programming and other information.
Buckardt said the final approvals are being worked out with a potential launch at the end of the year.
Meanwhile, the museum staff continues with health-related adaptations, such as signage, visitor flow, sanitation stations and cleaning protocols. Some of the museum's highly interactive elements have been modified, and other elements like furs and books have been removed because they can't be easily cleaned, Buckardt said.