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Coffee Talk
Business Observer Friday, Sep. 15, 2017 1 year ago

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Doomsday surge never occurred.

The Glazer Children's Museum had braced for the worst as Hurricane Irma approached Florida. The 53,000-square-foot museum's picturesque setting along the city's downtown waterfront meant it was in for destructive flooding if the Hillsborough River breached its banks, as many experts forecast.

Luckily, the doomsday storm surge never occurred, and the museum and its neighbors were spared.

Jennifer Stancil, president and CEO of the Glazer Children's Museum, tells Coffee Talk the institution knew it would have a vital role to play in Irma's aftermath. It prepared its strategy accordingly.

Children's museums, she says, typically see a “student surge” when schools close in times of crisis. “So I reached out to our colleagues in Houston and Louisiana about reopening and how they handled it and what it meant to their communities,” she says, referring to areas where Hurricane Harvey wreaked havoc.

The museum was back up and running by Wednesday, offering children and families without electricity and air conditioning a respite from adverse post-Irma conditions. Stancil says the museum has reduced its one-day admission from normally $15 to $7 — a change that will remain in effect for the entire month of September. The admission fee reduction will hit the museum harder financially than any of the damage it sustained during the storm, which was minimal, but Stancil and her staff are looking at the bigger picture.

“We're using every tool possible to communicate internally with each other as well as externally with the public about what's going on,” she says. In times of crisis, “people are craving information. So the best thing you can do, as a leader, is to make sure your communication is as transparent as you can make it.”

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