Ontario Science Centre's Transformation Draws Record Crowds - The highest number of visitors in a decade



    TORONTO, Sept. 19 /CNW/ - The Ontario Science Centre announced today that
it recorded its best summer attendance numbers in 10 years, with over 535,000
visitors for the five month period beginning on April 1 and ending August 30,
2007 representing a four per cent increase from 514,000 in 2006. This success
is attributed to momentum from the Agents of Change transformation, that saw a
renewal of more than 30 per cent of public exhibition spaces, plus new
programming that extends the Centre's reach to a broader audience onsite,
online and offsite.
    Declining tourism from the United States to Toronto and sunny weather
with less than half the regular rainfall would normally lead to lower summer
attendance at the Science Centre. While it is a favourite destination year
round, the Centre is definitely top of mind on rainy summer days for local
visitors, day camps and tourists alike. However, this summer set a new
standard for attendance.
    "The Ontario Science Centre is continuing the trend started in 2006 when
we were the most visited cultural attraction in Canada. With Agents of Change,
we led the way, creating new approaches to visitor engagement and a new model
for a science centre for the 21st century," said Lesley Lewis, CEO of the
Ontario Science Centre.
    Onsite experiences and offerings are designed to appeal to a wide range
of visitor audiences and preferences. The internationally acclaimed Titanic:
The Artifact Exhibition running to January 6, 2008 is popular with adults and
seniors as well as families with children. The Weston Family Innovation Centre
is a new edgy experience area specifically for teenagers and young adults.
While outside an exploration plaza, TELUSCAPE, welcomes visitors as well as
residents of nearby communities.
    "Next year promises to be a stellar one as well," said Ms. Lewis. "From
June 15 to 19, 2008, the Ontario Science Centre will host the Fifth Science
Centre World Congress, held for the first time in North America. This will
bring together senior leaders and decision makers from science centres around
the world. Immediately prior to the Congress, the Centre will launch Facing
Mars - Would You Survive the Journey? - a new interactive exhibition focusing
on the human/emotional and international relevance of travel to and population
of the planet."
    To become more relevant to a broader audience, the Science Centre has
developed innovative programs to engage and challenge visitors with
thought-provoking experiences related to science and technology - onsite,
online and offsite. An example of this type of programming offsite are the
monthly Café Scientifique held at the Rivoli each month, which bring together
scientists and citizens to discuss and debate hot science related topics over
a glass of wine or a cup of coffee.
    By leveraging social media such as YouTube, the Science Centre is able to
extend its reach even more. For example, a recent visit to the Centre by
Canadian Astronaut Chris Hadfield drew a capacity crowd of 450 to hear him
speak in person. A video clip of his presentation posted on YouTube, Yahoo and
other video sites has drawn some 200,000 downloads to date. Through its own
website RedShiftNow.ca, the Science Centre enables visitors to download their
creations from the Weston Family Innovation Centre for further work at home as
well as to express their opinions through online polls and discussions.
Podcasts and blogs from scientists let visitors stay up-to-date on current
science issues and headlines.
    On Friday, September 28, 2007, the Ontario Science Centre will host the
first event of the SCI FRI series. Climate change is the topic for the launch,
but the specific global issue will change for each subsequent event. Held on
the last Friday of every month, SCI FRI is designed for youth between the ages
of 14 to 24 with wide-ranging activities such as DJs spinning, youth speakers,
a "chill out" lounge, interactive experiences in the Weston Family Innovation
Centre, and a gallery of youth-produced artworks and videos.

    The Ontario Science Centre uses science as the lens to inspire and
actively engage people in new ways of seeing, understanding and thinking about
themselves and the world. The Centre is also a leading developer of
interactive exhibitions for science centres around the world. The Ontario
Science Centre is an agency of the Government of Ontario.




For further information:

For further information: Media contacts: Anna Relyea, Associate Director
of Strategic Communications, (416) 696-3273 or anna.relyea@osc.on.ca; Ellen
Flowers, Media Relations Officer, (416) 696-3154 or ellen.flowers@osc.on.ca


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