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Lucan’s museum opens its doors for the first time in over a year

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LUCAN – After more than a year of being closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Lucan Area Heritage and Donnelly Museum opened to the public last week.

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The museum has been closed since the end of its 2019 season in October of that year, which museum supervisor Thomas Levesque said was to protect both museum staff and visitors.

“A lot of our volunteers are from the most vulnerable sector of the population, and it seemed like it wouldn’t be safe for them to try to operate,” said Levesque. “It’s hard to run the museum without them because they’re very hard working and they’re a vital part of our museum … It just seemed like a better idea to stay closed for that summer.”

Levesque said the museum has faced challenges through the pandemic, but it’s been helped by Canadian Heritage as well as the county, which he said has helped them weather the storm better than some other smaller museums.

“It’s not great,” said Levesque. “It stops our income completely. We’ve been very fortunate the Ontario and federal governments have both been reasonably helpful … We haven’t been hit as hard as we could have been because there’s been some assistance.”

Levesque said it’s been an “interesting process” to prepare for opening in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The biggest thing that we’ve been focusing on with reopening is that we still want to provide the same interesting experience that we have before, but in a safer environment for COVID,” said Levesque. “With the help of the county and the federal government we’ve been able to change the way that the museum is laid out.”

To allow visitors to enjoy the museum safely, a one-way path through the museum floor has been created using dividers. Dan Rolph
To allow visitors to enjoy the museum safely, a one-way path through the museum floor has been created using dividers. Dan Rolph

One of the most noticeable changes in the museum is the new layout which permits a “one-way flow” of visitors as they view the various artifacts during their visit, which has allowed them to install barricades throughout the building as well.

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Levesque said there are limits to how many individuals can be in each of the museum’s buildings at once, and that 25 people are permitted to be in the museum’s main building at a time. For larger groups such as school tours, he said they’re able to split the groups throughout the museum, having some view artifacts in the museum while others are in the historic barn and cabin.

“One of the things that I think everybody has gotten a little bit used to during COVID is that there might be a bit of waiting, unfortunately, because of the limitations,” said Levesque. “We’re always going to try to be as flexible as we can in terms of getting as many people in to experience the museum as we can while making sure we do so safely.”

Though the museum is opening, Levesque said one of its biggest attractions and fundraisers, the escape room, won’t be able to run for the season. However, he said they hope to bring it back in 2022 with a brand new escape room that was planned for the 2020 season but was never able to be used.

“We don’t feel we could do a good enough job disinfecting everything,” said Levesque. “With historic objects, you can’t really disinfect them, and with it taking place in the cabin, it becomes hard to just disinfect the pieces of the puzzle without affecting the historic artifacts.”

The museum’s main building can hold 25 individuals at a time, but visitors can also be in the museum’s historic cabin and barn. Dan Rolph
The museum’s main building can hold 25 individuals at a time, but visitors can also be in the museum’s historic cabin and barn. Dan Rolph

Despite the escape room’s continued closure, Levesque said there has been plenty of interest from people seeking to visit to view the museum’s collection of artifacts.

“It’s been very nice,” said Levesque. “We’ve received a lot of calls and emails and people contacting us over the last couple of months seeing if we’re open and when we’re going to open. It’s been nice seeing that there is a fair amount of people who are still interested in coming to the museum.”

The Lucan Area Heritage and Donnelly Museum is open from Wednesday to Sunday from 11 a.m. – 4 p.m. For more information about the museum, visit donnellymuseum.com

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