Contractor Tony Simmons inspects his work on the Joshua L. Chamberlain Museum’s two-story historic porches in April. Simmons, who works solo, has continued his carpentry restoration of the museum exterior, part of a two-year, two-phase project, during the pandemic. It’s one of several major physical plant projects undertaken at PHC this spring despite the public closure. Contributed photo

Pejepscot History Center plans to re-open its physical doors since the beginning of the coronavirus outbreak in the spring on July 7, though in a limited capacity.

All visits, including research sessions, donation drop-offs, and historic house tours, will be available by advance appointment only, and limited to parties from one family or household unit. Visits are available most days of the week, and on limited Saturdays.

“We considered numerous scenarios,” said Pejepscot History Center executive director Larissa Vigue Picard in a news release, “from simply reducing our hours and tour schedules to remaining fully closed for the season. For the time being, this private-appointment arrangement seemed like the best compromise. We have limited staff, patrons, and volunteers in high-risk categories, small spaces in some areas of our facilities, and expect far fewer out-of-state guests until the quarantine restrictions ease.”

Those interested in research or other appointments may call the center at (207) 729-6606 or email [email protected]

Those interested in private house tours of the Joshua L. Chamberlain Museum or Skolfield-Whittier House are asked to submit a form with requested tour dates two weeks in advance. The form is available at pejepscothistorical.org/hours-fees-directions. Anyone entering Pejepscot History Center properties will be expected to wear a face covering for the duration of their visit, and respect physical distancing guidelines. Face coverings will be provided for those who don’t have them, and hand sanitizer will be available at entrances.

Vigue Picard said the center could return to limited, though regular, public hours later in the season if it seems safe to do so and travel restrictions ease.

“However, we will not compromise the health and safety of staff, volunteers, and visitors in any way, and we will continue to follow all state and federal guidelines,” Vigue Picard said.

Meanwhile, the center has offered several successful Zoom “History Happy Hours” since April and is working on more for the summer and fall. A live treasure-hunt tour of the Skolfield-Whittier House took place for third graders at Harriet Beecher Stowe School in late May, and PHC is exploring other online programs in the house museums.

Vigue Picard also sits on the board of Maine Archives and Museums (MAM), the state association supporting collecting organizations. She has facilitated three Zoom sessions with MAM members to discuss the pandemic and re-opening plans.

“It’s a diverse field,” Vigue Picard said. “Despite state recommendations and checklists for our industry, there is no one size fits all. Some museums are now open; others aren’t opening again until 2021. Although we’d all like to be operating as normal, normal doesn’t currently exist. We each have to figure out what is best for our unique situation.”

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