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Museum staff look for ways to share history and stories safely

Midhurst facility open now by appointment; Bookings can be made in half-hour increments between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m.
2020-09-21 IM museum
While COVID might be restricting some parts of educational — and inspirational — aspects of learning, the Simcoe County Museum is up and running. Ian McInroy for BarrieToday

Whatever the pandemic is throwing at us, the past, present and future of our lives will prevail and those stories will be told.

The Simcoe County Museum is ensuring that happens and staff are lending a hand in other areas.

Museum curator Kelley Swift Jones says since the COVID pandemic reared its ugly head and necessary changes were made in March, there have been changes at the Midhurst facility, but the ‘new normal’ is coming around, including helping out in other county departments.

“In the beginning, most staff worked from home, and there were very few staff actually on site,” she said from her home. “Maintenance and collections staff remained to continue with the care of the site.

“But in early April, several staff members were redeployed to assist in the county’s long-term care facilities, and continue to assist in those roles," Swift Jones added. 

Remaining museum staff who were not redeployed created a variety of online activities for families and county residents, participating in a #museumfromhome social media series that museums around the world were participating in. (Check it out at

In addition to that social media series, the museum offered a virtual day camp in July, and a Museum Makers day camp in August.  Participants were asked to pick up packages and then participated virtually for an hour each session.

Themes included Early Settlers, Weird Science, Voyageurs, and Victorians.

The museum is now open now by appointment, and visitors can book by visiting Bookings are made in half-hour increments, beginning at 11 a.m. with the last booking possible at 3 p.m.

The maximum number in a group is 10.

“There is one-way traffic flow, which reduces the chances of encountering other visitors during time at the museum,” Swift Jones said. “Right now, the indoor galleries and most outdoor buildings are open. Four outdoor buildings (cottage, agricultural implement barns, and the Red Pine House) remain closed, due to the high number of interactive displays in the building that cannot be removed or safely cleaned to the required standards that have been set.”

In addition, all interactive displays and activities have been removed. Visits are self guided and the museum has an app, called Simcoe County Museum, that can be downloaded to your phone.

Visitors are encouraged to access the app for additional information and details about the museum’s exhibits and heritage buildings.

Enhanced cleaning is being conducted, and as with all other indoor buildings in Simcoe County, masks are required to be worn indoors.

You can book an appointment online, or phone the museum at 705-728-3721.


Ian McInroy

About the Author: Ian McInroy

Ian McInroy is an award-winning photographer and journalist with more than 30 years in the industry
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