Footfalls haven’t increased despite schools reopening
Children, with their masks hanging on their chins, hasten about the lifelike model of a dinosaur. Muffled voices of joyful squeals can be heard mixed with the mechanical noise of machinery and science models. Parents stand in a corner, looking over their young ones experimenting with various exhibits. The museum is buzzing with people, but has still not regained its pre-Covid glory.
The number of people visiting the Visvesvaraya Industrial and Technological Museum (VITM) has increased as Covid cases have shown a downward trend. However, footfalls are still far from the pre-pandemic level.
K.A. Sadhana, the director of VITM, informed The Observer: “The footfalls have definitely increased, but until now, we have only reached 30- 40 percent of the pre-pandemic number of visitors. Before the pandemic, we used to get around 11 lakh visitors every year. This year, the museum opened on July 19 after lockdowns. Since then, we have only got around 1 lakh visitors so far.”
When the museum reopened in July, Deccan Herald reported it had had good footfalls.
Devika M, a ticket-seller at the museum, said: “On a good day, we get somewhere around 700 to 800 visitors. But usually the footfalls are around 500. On weekends, we get more visitors, say 3,000 to 4,000. Before the pandemic, we used to get around 10,000 people on weekends.”
With the reopening of schools, museum authorities expected better footfalls, but the situation didn’t change much.
P. Radhakrishnan, the security and maintenance officer at the museum, said: “Hardly any schools come to visit the museum anymore. Schools have faced a lot of backlog in terms of education as they were closed for one and a half years. On top of that, they have faced financial challenges as well. Of course, a trip to a museum would not be their priority right now.”
Another reason for low footfalls is a lack of interstate visitors.
“We used to get visitors from all over the country — largely from Kerala, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana and Maharashtra, but also from the north and northeastern states. Whoever visits Bengaluru also visits this museum. If you check TripAdvisor, Visvesvaraya museum is one of the top five tourist destinations in Bengaluru. But since the pandemic, inter-state and foreign visitors have stopped visiting,” Radhakrishnan added.
Increasing footfalls means an increase in maintaining Covid protocols.
Isha Rastogi, a college student who recently visited the museum, said: “I came here with my friends. It was a good experience. However, with so many young kids, it is hard to keep social distancing. Many of the exhibits are out of order right now. The museum needs a little more maintenance and stricter Covid protocols.”
Asked how they are ensuring safety, director Sadhana said: “We have installed contactless washing stations at the entrance of the museum. People use them before entering. Plus, we ensure there is a one-way flow of visitors, so that people don’t bump into each other and a safe distance is maintained.… In one section of the museum, we have contactless exhibits as well. Meaning, people do not need to press any buttons in order to interact with the model.”
On November 14, VITM organized a special initiative for blind and underprivileged children. A large number of children turned up for the programme, the director shared. Authorities hope more schools will visit the museum soon.