This week is a new start for the museum, as it opens its doors under a new name.
Rebranded the Niagara-on-the-Lake Museum, formerly known as the Niagara Historical Museum, it is welcoming members this week for a slow, cautious opening, and visitors starting Tuesday, July 14, so all can enjoy a museum experience that adheres to regional, provincial and federal health guidelines.
“We’re asking visitors to maintain physical distancing, follow directional arrows, and we’re limiting time and number of visitors inside the museum,” says managing director and curator, Sarah Kaufman.
“It’s really exciting, but also a little nerve-wracking,” she says.
“We’ve taken the time to make sure all protective measures are in place, looking at recommendations from the regional, provincial and federal governments. We began planning this quite a few weeks ago, anticipating our re-opening. We’re excited to be able to get people back through the doors, and doing what we can to make them feel safe.”
Kaufman says she and other staff “are really looking forward to seeing our members, and familiar faces from the community. We’ve really missed them.”
Some displays around the entrance have been moved to avoid crowding, and some pieces “slightly” rearranged in the main building, which is already spacious, to allow for accessibility, says Kaufman. And with a limit of 10 visitors at a time, everyone should be able to move around comfortably and enjoy the exhibits, she adds.
“We want our members and visitors to have a relaxed experience when they come here, but we’re also making sure that safety is paramount, for them and our staff,” she says.
“We’re asking visitors to wear masks, for their safety and the safety of our staff.”
While at the desk by the entrance, staff are protected by glass, but if they are in other common areas or with the public, they will be wearing masks as well.”
While the masks were just a “suggestion” for the Tuesday opening to members, Kaufman says that could change by the end of the week, with the regional councillors and mayors expecting to discuss the issue of making masks mandatory in indoor public spaces.
Kaufman says the museum is following all guidelines regarding hygiene rules, along with a stringent sanitizing schedule that will be enforced for high-touch areas and bathrooms, and will only be open four days a week to start.
The current exhibit, A Piece of Her Mind, displays 200 years of quilting that highlights the socio-economic world for women through the centuries.
The museum had scheduled its next exhibit, All Along The Waterfront, for a summer opening, but it has postponed until next spring. “We expect it to be a popular exhibit, so it seemed best to push it forward,” says Kaufman.
Instead, they are planning a fall exhibition on significant women in Niagara-on-the-Lake’s history, to coincide with the publishing of a new book on the same topic.
The release of the book has been delayed due to some recent entries, Kaufman says, including Donna Scott and Blanche Quinn, who both died recently and deserve a place in the compilation. Community members, as well as museum staff, have contributed to the stories.
The museum has maintained a social media profile throughout its COVID-19 closure, @NOTLMuseum, with weekly news, quizzes, and zoom lectures. Recordings of the presentations are readily available. Check the Museum’s Facebook page or www.nhsm.ca for online activities.
Lectures coming up in July:
Ordnance Boundary Stones of Niagara-on-the-Lake
Presenter: Ted Rumble
Some Women in Niagara-on-the-Lake’s History
Presenter: Shawna Butts
Was Your Grandmother a British Home Child?
Presenter: David Hemmings
Ask the Curator
Presenter: Sarah Kaufman
All presentations start at 4 p.m. and require registration through Zoom.
Please email firstname.lastname@example.org for the registration link.
The Museum’s popular Walking Tours will also begin again, on Saturday, July 18, with limited group sizes and all new routes that avoid the high traffic areas of King and Queen Streets.
More details on all these activities can be found on the museum’s web page: www.nhsm.ca
“So let’s all meet again,” said Kaufman, “and preferably wearing masks. But in the words of Vera Lynn’s iconic song, let’s keep smiling through.”
Doors are open July 14 to the general public,
and July 7 to members, Tuesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays and Sundays, 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.