“Welcome back” say museum staff and museum visitors as New Jersey museums slowly reopen — with the Old Barracks in Trenton being the first in the region to open its gates to the public.
Originally ordered closed by an executive order in March by Gov. Phil Murphy in order to stop the spread of the coronavirus pandemic, museums got the green light to reopen on July 2, but only if specific health precautions mandated by the state were in place.
That includes restricting the number of visitors to 25 percent capacity, requiring the use of facemasks, practicing social distancing, and other measures.
At the Old Barracks reopening on a warm July 2, guides, like Asher Lurie, are glad to be back in action and waiting for history and museum buffs to start lining up.
And while the foot traffic on reopening morning was light, the health protocols were not, and a masked Lurie mixed historical dates with safe-distance footing — marking an historical occasion in itself.
The Old Barracks is located at 100 Barrack Street and open Tuesday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tickets range $8 to $10, with children under five admitted free. For more information, call 609-396-1776 or visit www.barracks.org.
Several other regional museums followed by announcing their own phase two re-openings.
Morven Museum & Garden — built by Declaration of Independence signer Richard Stockton — reopens on Thursday, July 9, to welcome visitors to two exhibitions. One is the permanent exhibition on the home’s inhabitants, ranging from state dignitaries to slaves. The other is the special exhibition “Dreaming of Utopia: Roosevelt, New Jersey,” highlighting the history of the federally built farm and textile community that became a center for prominent American artists.
Open Wednesday through Sundays, current museum practices include cleaning visitor areas before and during opening, providing hand sanitizers at various locations, and the use of safety shields at information stations and the shop.
Morven Museum & Gardens is located at 55 Stockton Street, Princeton. Morning hours, 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., are designated for members only. After a cleaning, the general public is admitted between 1 and 4 p.m. Ticket range is from $8 to $10, children under six are free.
For more information, call 609-924-8144 or visit www.morven.org.
Grounds For Sculpture, the nationally noted sculpture center located in Hamilton, begins a limited reopening on Thursday, July 16, by allowing members to visit the grounds to view outside artwork only.
All member entries are free but must be reserved online. Hours are Thursday through Sunday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. All indoor facilities will be closed, except for Rat’s Restaurant, where limited outside opportunities to dine must be reserved in advance.
Grounds For Sculpture is located at 80 Sculptors Way, Hamilton. For more information call 609-586-0616 or visit www.groundsforsculpture.org.
At press time, the Princeton University Art Museum, New Jersey State Museum, and Trenton City Museum in Trenton, and the Zimmerli Art Museum at Rutgers in New Brunswick have yet to release any reopening information but offer free digital exhibitions and programs.