As Ohio continues to ease its coronavirus restrictions, one Fulton County entertainment venue reopened its doors Wednesday and another is scheduled to resume business June 24.
But following state guidelines initiated by the pandemic means there will be changes.
The Museum of Fulton County is again welcoming guests at its facility at 8848 State Route 108 in Wauseon. Operations Manager Scott Lonsdale said the museum’s board of directors were simply awaiting word from the state that the facility could reopen its doors.
But since social distancing restrictions remain in effect, the museum will operate with safety stipulations. Because the building is county-owned, all visitors will be required to wear masks. Guest numbers will be limited to 35 at one time, and museum employees and volunteers will enforce social distancing practices. The building will be deep-cleaned following each visiting group, most specifically touchable areas.
Should there be an influx of guests at a given time, those awaiting entrance will be invited to stay in the lobby or visit the museum another time.
“There are multiple options available for the guests, providing for their needs,” Lonsdale said.
Normal operating hours will be maintained, and sanitizing stations will be placed next to all touchable surfaces. However, hands-on activities related to exhibits will be eliminated. Instead, they will be packaged into free take-home projects.
All interpretive programming -public educational events held throughout the year – have been suspended.
“We are generating socially distant events, but our events calendar for the summer is canceled while we reinvent the wheel,” Lonsdale said. “We hope to have events later in the summer that are socially distant. We’re working on them.”
Lonsdale said he can’t predict whether people will shy away from attending the museum due to the COVID-19 restrictions. He said, however, that museums “are going to come out of this better than other facilities that aren’t considered entertainment.”
And because the museum is supported by visitor revenue and donations it won’t experience a heavy financial strain from the closing or a reduced number of visitors.
Museum board member John Myles said it’s appropriate to reopen the facility but “we’re going to ask people to act responsibly and follow the rules.”
He said a museum visit could be included in the “staycation” many people will probably embrace this summer rather than risk road or plane trips. “Although they may live in the community they may not have taken advantage of (the museum),” he said.
In addition to the museum’s permanent exhibit, “Preserving the Past, Embracing the Present, and Making the Future,” it has unveiled two new attractions. “County Quilting Bees: Stitching Together Communities Since 1850,” features over two dozen quilts made in Fulton County over more than 100 years. “Drafting a Declaration: The Marjorie Whiteman Story” explores the life and work of the Wauseon High School graduate, who was a U.S. State Department lawyer and a friend of First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt. It will continue until December.
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Scheduled to reopen June 24, Sauder Village in Archbold is still finalizing its COVID-19 protocol for guests. Kim Krieger, PR/media relations, said the open-air museum at 22611 State Route 2 is still reviewing state and local health department guidelines to determine appropriate restrictions.
“The safety and well-being of everyone is our top priority,” she said. “We feel very comfortable being able to reopen our doors and welcome our guests back to Sauder Village.”
Masks will be required for staff members but that restriction hasn’t yet been decided about guests. Social distancing will be practiced but a challenge to enforce, Krieger said. Many of the village’s buildings will likely put one-direction rules in place and some may require guests to visit with the costumed guides from outside.
As for buildings like the village’s general store, rules for guests have yet to be determined.
Krieger said it’s fairly certain the Little Pioneers Homestead, a children’s attraction, will remain closed. “As far as having lots of hands-on activities for the kids in that area, we think that’s not going to be an option right away,” she said.
Other preventative measures will include hand sanitizer available throughout the village and a Plexiglas barrier at the admissions desk.
The village’s hours will be reduced to Wednesday through Saturday, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. The gift shop and quilt shop are already open, although with limited hours, Tuesday to Friday, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. and Saturday from 10 a.m.-3 p.m. The village campground and its splash pad and playground are also available.
Because hours and activities at Sauder Village remain fluid prior to finalizing operating procedures, guests are encouraged to call 419-446-2541 or visit saudervillage.org before proceeding.
The village will continue “History Bound,” videos, photos, and online activities, on the website for people not yet comfortable with visiting.
Reach David J. Coehrs at 419-335-2010.