by Chey Scott
The Northwest Museum of Arts & Culture announced this morning that its monthly after-work event BeGin! is taking a hiatus for a few months during winter due to occupancy and safety issues.
In an email sent out this morning with the subject line “BeGin ending…for now,” the museum says that because the event — held on the second Friday of the month and offering complimentary exhibit and gallery admission — has successfully drawn in so many visitors, the Spokane Fire Department is asking the MAC to look into occupancy issues.
“[Occupancy]’s always been an issue,” museum spokeswoman Rebecca Bishop tells The Inlander.
“It just came to light because we have so many people involved, and for the winter months when everyone has to be inside we have high occupancy, and that’s a problem when people congregate because the museum wasn’t built with a big gathering space,” Bishop says.
Even 500 people in the lower level atrium of the museum are too many for that space’s occupancy rate, she says, and it’s not unusual for BeGin! to attract up to 1,200 people.
“If the galleries are open there is more space, but also with the liquor [available], the fire department wants us to look into it.”
During the warmer months of the year, she says, BeGin! attendees are able to spread out more to the museum’s small outdoor amphitheater.
Rather than canceling BeGin! that’s already been scheduled for Dec. 14, Bishop wrote in an email to The Inlander, the MAC will host a scaled-down version of the event from 6-8 pm with snacks, a bar and open galleries, but there won’t be live music.