Everson and Erie Canal Museums in Syracuse holding off on re-opening, for now

Local News

SYRACUSE, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) — While many businesses are fighting for a chance to re-open, some local museums are in no rush to do so. Though they were allowed to open on Friday for the start of Phase Four, those at the Everson Museum of Art and the Erie Canal Museum have decided to hold off for now.

The Everson will be waiting until August 1 to welcome customers again, after being closed for three months.

“The museum has always been a safe environment for people to be in and so we take that very seriously. And we want to continue to make it safe, enjoyable, but also a place where you feel that you’re part of a community,” said Elizabeth Dunbar, the Director and CEO of the Everson Museum of Art.

The Everson has cancelled their summer camp programs and they’re selling creativity kits for kids instead. When they do open their doors, they will be limiting capacity not only within the 20,000 square-foot facility, but also within each exhibit to ensure social distancing. Dunbar said all staff will be getting a temperature check and all guests are required to wear masks. There will be signs and floor markings to help guests keep their distance, too.

Dunbar said they’re also working on getting their Food Truck Friday program up and running soon, too.

In the meantime, they’ve kept all their full-time employees on staff and put a heavy focus on virtual tours and online classes. Dunbar said they’ve been able to reach people all across the country during the pandemic. And while that’s a type of exposure they haven’t seen in awhile, Dunbar said they can’t wait to bring people into the museum again.

“Art is about communication and expression and having those conversations about art with another person is really important,” Dunbar said.

Just like those at the Everson, the folks at the Erie Canal Museum have also decided to delay their re-opening until the middle of July, spending this time to prepare for those customers and make sure they’re safe before coming through their doors. Natalie Stetson, the Executive Director at the Erie Canal Museum, said they’re delaying the re-opening mainly because they’re not ready yet.

“And honestly, admission is not where we make the bulk of our income. Yes, money is very tight right now, we are struggling and the future is pretty unknown. But, opening our doors and welcoming people in is not necessarily going to be the thing that changes that,” Stetson said.

Stetson has actually seen an increase in donations and members throughout the pandemic, which is the opposite of what she expected. They’ve also taken to the web, creating a YouTube channel and offering digital exhibitions.

Stetson even sent out a survey to members to see if they’d be interested in visiting the museum during the pandemic. She said most responded saying they’d be more likely to visit in the year 2021 or until after a coronavirus vaccine is created.

For the summer, they hope to focus on drawing locals in, rather than out-of-state visitors, which usually makes up 50% of their guests.

“Our mission is to take care of this collection, take care of these buildings, and then share that with the public. That’s why we exist and we want to continue doing that,” Stetson said.

When the Erie Canal Museum opens, they will have limited hours and timed visits.

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