Three main points from our new strategic framework, GHM 2016, are to: 1) offer greater access for our visitors to our facilities, 2) offer more engaging experiences with history, and 3) be wise stewards of our resources. One of the ways in which we’ve worked towards accomplishing those strategies is by reviewing our hours of operations.
Under our present situation, the Golden History Center and the Astor House Museum are open a combined total of 3,506 hours annually. The museums operate during the summer (the three months between Memorial Day and Labor Day) Tuesday-Sunday. During the low season (the nine months between Labor Day and Memorial Day) the museums are closed Sunday.
Over the past year, we have been closely observing our attendance at all three sites to better understand use. And here is a glimpse at what we found:
- Of our approximately 20,000 annual visitors, about 50% visit during the summer months of June, July and August.
- 25% of our guests visit in the “shoulder seasons” which include May, September, and October.
- The remaining 25% of visitors attend in the six months between November-April, with a notable spike in December around Candlelight Walk.
Also, for the past several years, only the grounds of the Clear Creek History Park have been open to visitors. With the notable exceptions of events and summer camps, the buildings were largely closed to the public. Previous years’ best-guess estimates of the annual visitation of the History Park were placed at around 6,100 annually. However, with the help of City of Golden Planning Department, we placed infrared counters at each of the four entrances to the park. We discovered that during the period between May 24 and June 20 the History Park welcomed over 2,200 for just those four weeks!
So, as a response to this data, we are implementing new operating hours effective January 2:
Summer Season: May 1 – Oct. 31 (AHM, GHC &CCHP)
Tues. – Sat. 10 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.
Sun. Noon – 4:30 p.m.
Winter Season: Nov. 1 – April 30 (AHM & GHC)
Wed. – Sat. 11 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.
Sun. Noon – 4:30 p.m.
Changing our operational hours will allow us to save some time during our slower season and put those resources towards staffing the History Park with living history interpreters all summer long. Additionally, we are lengthening our summer season to six months from three. Lastly, while we are reducing our hours slightly at the Astor House and History Center during the winter season, we are still keeping the same number of days, but changing from Tuesday to Sunday as our open day to better serve families who tend to visit on weekends.
We are very excited about our new hours and the ability to serve our visitors better. With the additional staff at the History Park during the summer, we will increase our total operations 20% to 4,225 annual hours. I could go on and on about how we are going to improve the experience at CCHP during the summer, but we’ll leave that to another blog post.