Museums finding ways to open: Annandale House in Tillsonburg the latest
Annandale National Historic Site in Tillsonburg, Ont. is seen on Tuesday, July 7, 2020. (Sean Irvine / CTV News)
TILLSONBURG, ONT. -- Annandale National Historic Site in Tillsonburg is now physically reopened - sort of.
The site on Tillson Avenue features a revered mansion built in the 1880s.
It is not open yet, but the modern gallery attached to it has been cleared for public use once again, with restrictions.
An exhibit, entitled “Piecing together the past and present” runs through Aug. 1.
It features 10 historic quilts tied to the home and area, along with 10 modern quilts created by a local group.
“It was 2020 and we thought, hey 20 quilts for 2020,” says curator Patricia Phelps.
Attending requires booking an appointment, Monday to Friday, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. for groups of up to seven people.
It may not sound like a huge gathering number or display, but amidst COVID-19 restrictions, it’s a big step forward, Phelps contends.
She says many museums, like her own, are at least partly in vintage structures where pandemic cleaning requirements could be damaging.
“Museums are not all the same. So, if you have a museum that has wonderful exhibits, but they’re all behind glass in modern showcases, you can easily wipe down those areas with a disinfectant required to kill the COVID virus. But if you’re a museum in historic home, that has incredible woodwork and furniture and fabrics that are over 100 years old, you cannot use those cleaners, you know, it’s disastrous results.”
Annandale House, which as a national historic site receives funding from local government and grants from senior levels of government, has been able to weather the loss of income from the pandemic so far.
But Phelps worries about other museums still struggling to open.
To date, some, including the St. Marys Baseball Hall of Fame and the Woodstock Museum have found innovative ways to open safely.
But most others, including in those in London, remain closed.