Why is the Paris Museum still closed?

Local museums are reopening across Ontario. The Brant Museum came out of lockdown on June 30th, the Waterloo Region Museum opened its doors on July 2nd, the Woodstock Museum has been open since July 7th and the Guelph Civic Museum reopened on July 24th. Most have shortened their hours and put COVID-19 restrictions in place, but visitors can view their exhibits and use their archives.

Yet the Paris Museum, in one of the safest communities in the province, remains closed.

What makes us so different?

The principal factor is that the Paris Museum is located in the Syl Apps Community Centre, which has an indoor arena and recreation facilities. This type of facility has remained closed in Brant County.

But don’t let the locked doors deceive you. The life of the museum goes on. Every month, the board of directors meets by phone and videoconference. The museum has been inspected regularly by Steve Pinkett and our archives and documents have likewise been checked by our curator, Tina Lyon. Digital cataloging and bookkeeping are being done by our volunteers from home.

In mid-July, the museum was professionally cleaned and disinfected. Since July 22nd, masked and gloved volunteers – a maximum of four at any given time – have been allowed to enter the museum.

Our researchers have resumed work, our filers and cataloguers are busy, our technology is being updated, our front desk handles administrative matters and inquiries and our chair, Ursula O’Brien, answers members’ questions by email, Facebook and the museum’s website.

Although we have not been able to hold fundraisers or renew memberships, our budget remains intact. We received a grant from The County of Brant to help us survive the pandemic and fortunately our expenditures – heating, air conditioning, bank fees – have been minimal.

There have been losses. We were not able to mourn the deaths of two of our long-serving members — Dale Robb on March 18th and Eric Gibson on June 4th. We very much miss our museum friends.

Our volunteers come in five days a week and we are closed on Saturday. We are looking forward to having visitors back when possible and hope that everyone stays well and healthy in the meantime.

We remain heartened by the will of our volunteers to ride out this crisis and emerge vibrant and strong.

Carol Goar