On March 16, the Canadian museum on the landing beaches of Normandy closed its doors to respect the French government’s measures to combat Covid-19.
At the time we had just entered our busy beginning season and had started to welcome many groups who had travelled from Canada during their school holidays. The museum had undergone a month of maintenance in January; our first three Canadian guides had arrived and had been trained; our communications plans were in place, and a large part of our budgets were already committed.
Due to the administrative closure, the eight permanent employees of the museum began working from home and ensured continuity of service: the link with customers who cancelled their visits, administrative and accounting follow-up, crisis management on a social and financial level, the preparation of edutainment content to put online, the virtual commemoration of May 8 (V-E Day), communication, presence on social networks, collaboration with our colleagues in Canada, work on historical files, translation, creation of an e-shop, destocking, making masks…
On a rotating basis, we ensured a presence at the museum, one or two days a week, according to the needs and possibilities of each. It was also an opportunity to ensure the maintenance of the site because, fortunately, the crisis did not prevent Spring from arriving, the grass to grow, the wind to blow and the Juno Beach Centre to require that we take care of it.
The three Canadian guides who arrived in Courseulles just 1.5 months before closing, chose to stay for the duration of the isolation period so that they could be operational again upon our re-opening.
Everyone did their best to keep the curtain from falling on the stage; to keep the Juno Beach Centre active and visible on Juno Beach. Slow motion, sometimes virtually, but surely. Thank you to everyone who followed and accompanied us during these times of confinement.
Today, May 11, the day of deconfinement in Normandy, we have come back to work in the offices at the museum, applying the recommended safety measures. We must now focus on the re-opening of the museum and the sanitary measures to be implemented for our visitors for an anticipated re-opening date in early June. It is also time to prepare for the commemoration of the 76th anniversary of D-Day on June 6.
Many of you wrote to us to say that your visit was cancelled or postponed. Despite our best efforts and our motivation, supported in this by the Juno Beach Centre Association in Canada, and the help of the French government with partial unemployment subsidies, the Juno Beach Centre is going through a difficult period. The museum is managed by a charitable association, funded in part by the Government of Canada. However, for the past two months and for an indefinite period of time moving forward, the museum has no consistent income, either from its ticket office nor from its museum shop.
We are contacting you to ask you to please consider donating if you have the means to do so, and to consider visiting the museum as soon as possible. We are also counting on you to visit our online stores, in Canada and also in France since the Juno Beach Centre has just opened an e-shop in addition to its on-site museum shop.
We need you to ensure a Canadian presence on Juno Beach, a place where you can once again come to reflect, remember, commemorate, learn, share…
Each of your gestures will count, so that you can continue walking In Their Footsteps, on Juno Beach. Thank you in advance.
Dispatches from Juno shares all the news, events, and stories from the Juno Beach Centre in France and Canada. Interested in contributing a story to the blog? Email the editor at firstname.lastname@example.org.