Bristol’s museums begin to open their doors

With the introduction of Phase 3, museums can reopen — through for some, that’s easier said than done

By Christy Nadalin
Posted 7/3/20

Gov. Gina Raimondo’s Phase 3 guidance was released on Tuesday, allowing museums, along with movie theaters and bowling alleys, to reopen, within parameters. For some local museums, it’s …

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Bristol’s museums begin to open their doors

With the introduction of Phase 3, museums can reopen — through for some, that’s easier said than done

Posted

Gov. Gina Raimondo’s Phase 3 guidance was released on Tuesday, allowing museums, along with movie theaters and bowling alleys, to reopen, within parameters. For some local museums, it’s just a matter of unlocking their doors and making sure that crowd numbers and flow are managed, but for others, it’s a bit more complicated.

For the Herreshoff Marine Museum, reopening after the coronavirus shut down will be pretty straightforward. They plan to open the doors of the open and airy Hall of Boats and gallery space at the Burnside Street property on Friday at 10 a.m.

“Capacity is based on square footage, so we can have something like 100 people in the building at once, which we will likely not come close to,” said Executive Director Bill Lynn. “After that, we’re planning to be open Thursdays through Sundays.”

“We’re reasonably well set up for this: lots of space, a pretty well-defined one-way traffic flow, a self-guided tour app and a contactless POS (point of sale) system,” he said. “We’ve reorganized the tour to conform to the traffic flow, and we’re asking visitors to download it before they come in. There will be lots of disinfectant, hand sanitizer, gloves, masks, plexiglass, signage, et cetera.” For more information, visit Herreshoff.org.

Bristol Art Musuem

According to curator Mary Dondero, the Bristol Art Museum is planning to reopen in mid-July, in accordance with limitations and the guidelines published by the state. “We are excited to bring visitors back into the galleries to view the current exhibit, ‘Praxis: Abstraction; 4 Strategies’.”

They will be welcoming guests on Fridays and Saturdays from 1 to 4 p.m. Check their website for updated information at Bristolartmuseum.org.

Coggeshall Farm

Like Herreshoff, Coggeshall Farm Museum will also be reopening on Thursday, July 2, with hours on Thursdays through Sundays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Parking will be limited and state guidelines closely observed, admitting all guests on a first-come, first-serve basis.

Coggeshall Farm tells the story of the Coggeshall family farm in the late 18th-century. As the museum reopens to the public, it will focus on providing special new programming to interpret life in the 1790s, from farming to daily home activities, such as gardening, fence-making, laundry, textiles, and more. Activities that typically take place inside of the historic buildings will be reimagined in an outdoor setting to provide easier and safer access to the viewing public. Heritage-breed animals including chickens and pigs will also be on site.

Visitors are asked to follow state guidelines and wear face coverings or masks while at Coggeshall Farm Museum, especially when interacting with staff and other visitors. As an outdoor living history museum, safe social distancing is encouraged and will be monitored, and hand sanitizing stations will be available through the historic grounds.

During the month of July, Coggeshall will offer a “Kids FREE” promotion, with up to three kids ages 17 and younger admitted free into the museum when accompanied by an adult paying full admission. For more information, visit Coggeshallfarm.org.

Linden Place

“We are excited to be able to open, but we are taking our time with it,” said Susan Battle, executive director of Linden Place. With the pandemic affecting staffing and volunteer numbers, they won’t be able to ramp up to their normal hours quite yet. For now, their gift shop is open Tuesdays through Fridays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.; the sculpture and rose gardens are open for strolling; the exhibit on front lawn by Bristol Art Museum is available for viewing; outdoor events, including their Slave Trade walking tours and Gardens and Grounds tours are being held; and the Bristol Yoga Studio is hosting a weekly class in the gardens on Friday mornings.

“We expect to open up the mansion some time in mid to late July for tours. They will be self-guided with a designated route, and timed, advance ticket sales will be in place,” said Ms. Battle. For more information, visit Lindenplace.org.

Blithewold

The timeline for the reopening of the Blithewold mansion remains in doubt. “There are lots of expenses associated with opening the mansion,” said Karen Binder, Blithewold’s executive director. “We are reliant on our volunteers, and many of them are not yet comfortable interacting with the public indoors.”

Blithewold’s gardens, however, have been open for several weeks, and Ms. Binder said that is going very well. “We have been pleased with visitation in the gardens, and people have been very respectful of each other, and wearing face masks.”

In August, Ms. Binder will need to determine if Christmas at Blithewold will proceed as usual, with elaborate mansion decorations, tours and teas, or if they will be refocusing their efforts on enhancing the outdoor offerings, like their Friday evening Sparkle!, an opportunity for families to enjoy Blithewold’s illuminated gardens. That decision will be made in August.

For now, Blithewold’s gardens remain open, and they are holding many of their classes and events, both virtually and outdoor, including their popular Concerts on the Lawn series. Visit Blithewold.org for more information.

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