The Seashore Trolley Museum will likely be one of the first museums in Maine to reopen to the public next month.

The Kennebunkport museum on Thursday successfully completed the state’s checklist of compliance conditions to reopen during the first phase of Gov. Janet Mills’ plan to restart the economy. It will open its campus on May 16 to Maine residents only, though visitors’ experience at the museum will be a bit different than it was before the coronavirus pandemic.

It is not clear when other museums in Maine will be able to reopen. The plan outlined this week by Gov. Janet Mills did not specifically address museums. The Department of Economic and Community Development says any businesses not specified for Stage 1 reopening, but whose owners believe can be opened and operated safely, may request a dispensation.

Because the trolley museum is an outdoor museum, it fit into the category of outdoor recreation, which can resume under the first phase of the reopening plan, said Katie Orlando, the nonprofit’s executive director. The museum will be open May 16, 17, 24, 30 and 31.

“We’re excited to be able to do this,” Orlando said.

To comply with conditions from the state checklist, the museum will sell tickets online, which will limit person-to-person contact and allow staff to limit the number of people on campus. Visitors will not be allowed to go onto trolleys and buses on display, but will still be able to walk around the barns that house them.


“We need to keep all trolleys and buses closed for now. We just don’t have the resources to disinfect our entire collection of 350 items,” Orlando said.

Only Maine residents will be allowed to visit and volunteer at the museum to comply with the state’s 14-day quarantine requirement for people coming from out of state. The gift shop will be closed for in-person sales until June.

The museum will offer several types of activities that comply with the COVID-19 prevention checklist for guided outdoor activities, Orlando said. Two-hour private charter trolley rides will be available for groups of up to five people. A “Be a Motorman” experience will allow a single visitor to learn how to drive a trolley with a trained motorman.

The museum will also offer docent-guided tours for groups of up to five people. Self-guided tours will allow visitors to explore the campus at their own pace, Orlando said.

When ticket sales begin on May 8, the museum plans to release a list of expectations for guests visiting the property during the pandemic.

Orlando said she anticipates the museum will have a deficit this year because of lost revenue, but being able to open for limited activities will help cushion that blow. The museum received a a loan through the Paycheck Protection Program to cover payroll and other costs through mid-June.

“We’re trying to do everything we can to generate revenue right now,” she said.

Orlando noted that while staff and volunteers are excited to reopen the museum and give “stir-crazy” Mainers something to do, that opening will happen without many volunteers who are in high-risk categories or who live outside Maine.

“It will be very sad for us to open the season without those volunteers, but we don’t want them here until it’s safe,” she said.

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