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For the first time in months, history buffs, art enthusiasts and those interested in learning more about the natural sciences will be able to safely visit Burlington County’s outstanding museums and galleries.
Starting this week, the museums and galleries at Smithville Park in Eastampton and at the Burlington County Lyceum of History and Natural Sciences and the Historic Prison Museum in Mount Holly will begin welcoming back visitors to their facilities and exhibits with new protocols and safety measures to guard against the spread of coronavirus.
“Burlington County is home to so much history and culture that we’ve proudly highlighted and displayed at our top-rate facilities. Unfortunately, the coronavirus pandemic required us to temporarily close these sites to protect people’s health and guard against the virus’ spread,” said County Board member Linda Hynes. “We’ve put safeguards in place and are thrilled to announce we can safely welcome people back to visit and enjoy these special places.”
The Historic Prison Museum, the Warden’s House Gallery and the County Lyceum of History and Natural Sciences reopened Tuesday, and will operate on Tuesdays and Saturdays from 10AM to 4PM. Family groups of six or less visitors can also schedule tours on days the Prison Museum is not open.
The Smithville Mansion’s Annex Art Gallery, the Worker’s House Museum and Gallery will reopened today, and will operate on Wednesdays from 10AM to 4PM and Sundays from noon to 4PM. The Burlington County Underground Railroad Association Museum will reopen Wednesday, Sept. 30, and will operate during the same hours. It will also open at other times for private tours for groups of up to 6 persons.
Access to Smithville Mansion will be limited to groups of up to six visitors who preregister with the Friends of the Mansion at Smithville.
Among the new protocols and safeguards, visitors at all of the sites will be limited to 25% of the building capacity and with separate public entrances and exits and designated routes to limit crowding. Hand sanitizer stations have been set up at the entrances and exits and gift shop and reception areas, and plexiglass shields have been installed at most reception desks.
Staff and visitors will be required to undergo temperature checks, and face coverings will be required to be worn at all time. All others will be denied entry if they are unmasked.
Consumption of food and beverages will be prohibited in public areas and staff will be required to aggressively disinfect all high touch surfaces, including doorknobs and handles and rails.
Visiting hours at the Lyceum and Historic Prison sites will be Tuesday and Saturday from 10AM to 4PM.
Additional site-specific guidelines and restrictions will be posted online at www.co.burlington.nj.us/parks
“After months of being cooped up, we want residents and families to come out and enjoy these treasures, but we want them to do so safely,” said Hynes, who is the County Board’s liaison to the County Department of Resource Conversation and Parks. “Our County Parks staff put a lot of hard work and thought into getting these sites ready to reopen and our Board appreciates their efforts and those of all our county employees who have carried on despite the hardships of the pandemic.”
In addition to reopening the museums, the Parks Service has kicked off a new online program dedicated to Burlington County’s history.
Known as “Burlington County 101”, the workshop series consists of seven online Zoom sessions on county history, beginning with the formation of what would become Burlington County and the first human inhabitants and European settlements through the American Revolution and residents’ role in the Civil War. Other topics that will be discussed include the Articles of the Confederation and the U.S. Constitution, the formation of the Timbuctoo settlement and how the county’s Quaker population helped make the county a safe-haven for African Americans.
Classes began on Sept. 9 and will continue bi-weekly through December and are being led by Burlington County Parks Historian Eric Orange. Registration is encouraged but not required. Information is available online at https://secure.rec1.com/catalog.
“Many of our residents are not aware of all this history in their backyards so we’re incredibly excited about this new online initiative and we hope people will take advantage of it,” Hynes said. “It’s another example of our County staff finding creative ways to keep delivering incredible service during the pandemic and overcoming the unprecedented challenges it has posed.”
Museums and Galleries in Mount Holly will reopen beginning Tuesday, September 22 on Tuesdays and Saturdays from 10AM until 4PM.
Mount Holly Locations:
Historic Prison Museum, 128 High Street. Family groups of 6 or fewer persons will be allowed to
preschedule tours through the Parks website on days that the Museum is not open to
the public. Limited to 6 visitors at a time.
Warden’s House, High and Grant Streets. Limited to 6 visitors at a time.
Burlington County Lyceum of History and Natural Sciences, 304 High Street. Limited to 12 visitors at a
Museums and Galleries at Smithville (except for Underground Railroad Association Museum) will reopen beginning Wednesday, September 23 on Wednesdays from 10AM until 4PM and Sundays from noon until 4PM. Smithville Mansion only open via advanced registration.
Smithville Mansion’s Annex Art Gallery, 2nd floor of the Smithville Mansion. Limited to 12 visitors at a
Worker’s House Museum and Gallery, 8&9 Park Avenue. Limited to 6 visitors at a time.
Burlington County Underground Railroad Association Museum, 10&11 Park Avenue will open on Sept. 30 and operate from 10 AM to 4PM on Wednesday and noon to 4PM Sunday. It will also open on other
days and time to groups of up to 6 people with advanced reservations by calling 609-500-3429. Limited to 6 visitors at a time
Smithville Mansion – Only open to groups of 6 or fewer persons that preschedule tours by contacting
the Friends of the Mansion at Smithville at 609-261-5882 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Visitors to all locations must submit to a temperature check before entering, use hand sanitizer, wear face coverings and practice social distancing. Individual locations have a limited capacity.
Burlington County Underground Railroad Association Museum, 10&11 Park Avenue. Also open on other