Old Sturbridge Village President and CEO James E. Donahue today announced that the living history museum’s January and February 2009 attendance jumped 32 percent over the same period last year, giving OSV its best start in seven years.
The museum’s attendance gains are especially significant considering they came despite a plunging stock market and an exceptionally cold and snowy winter. OSV also gained visitors last year, posting an eight percent attendance increase for 2008.
“This is a real bright spot in a dismal economy,” Donahue said. “Old Sturbridge Village is definitely bucking the trend, especially during a time when other businesses and museums are seeing double digit declines in sales and attendance.”
Increased nervousness over the faltering economy has given visitors a renewed desire to get “back to basics” and choose destinations that are fun, but also have lasting educational value, Donahue said.
“People have a hunger now for simpler times. They are curious to see how early New Englanders bartered, traded, made things last and got by with less. The message from Old Sturbridge Village historians is clear and comforting — people have survived hard times before.
Located within an hour’s drive of eight million people, OSV is also seeing increases in visitors opting for daytrips and “stay-cations” close to home. Many take advantage of the Village’s policy of a free second day return visit within 10 days, or become museum members, which entitles them to unlimited annual visits.
New exhibits opening this summer at Old Sturbridge Village will include “Back to Our Roots” a four-part hands-on agricultural exhibit exploring the changes in farming (and eating), tools and technology and the transportation of goods to market. The new exhibit, which will feature cow-milking and climb-on wagons, follows the introduction last year of the museum’s popular Concord stagecoach, and the 2007 opening of the Small House exhibit, which depicts a typical “starter home” of the 1830s.