Paris Museum Gets a Fresh, New Look

Visitors to the newly reopened Paris Museum will be struck by how much has changed since COVID-19 forced us to close the museum last March.

The first two signs that life is different at PMHS are the bottle of hand sanitizer and the row of masks waiting right inside the door. Without a mask, no visitor or volunteer can be permitted in the museum.

The next give-away is the large plexiglass shield at the front desk. It is a large L-shaped wraparound, protecting the receptionist. There is room to slide documents underneath, but only the receptionist is allowed behind the shield.

Don’t be intimidated; all our receptionists are friendly and eager to help you.

Look a little further and you’ll see markings on the floors, ensuring a one-way flow of traffic. During a contagious pandemic, we can’t have visitors going every which way or clustering around one exhibit.

Until further notice, we are asking visitors to make an appointment before they come. This helps us control the number of people in the museum. The Brant County Health Unit has set a limit of ten individuals – volunteers and visitors – at any given time. Without an appointment, drop-ins will have to wait outside the museum until someone leaves if there are already ten people in the museum.

Our archives will be closed to visitors during the pandemic, but researchers will respond to email requests (research@theparismuseum.com) and phone requests (519-442-9295)

Our new hours are Wednesday, Thursday and Friday 1 pm to 4 pm. The museum will not open on Saturdays.

All of these adjustments were required by the Brant County Health Unit as a condition of reopening. The bigger and more deliberate changes were orchestrated by our curator, Tina Lyon. During the lockdown, she envisaged a complete reorganization of the public areas of the museum to highlight our cobblestone models, create more space and freshen the exhibits.

She began by circulating three possible floor plans to the board, volunteers and frequent users. All three complied with the Ontario Building Code and fire safety regulations. Participants quickly agreed on one of the plans. In late July the museum was professionally cleaned and disinfected and the county permitted four volunteers inside at any given time. That was when Tina got to work moving wall display cases and shifting everything to a new location.

The result: the focal point of the museum is now our collection of cobblestone models. They are in pristine shape, each building’s name address and a brief history on a brass plaque attached to the casing. The large diorama (a three-dimensional map of historic Paris) which had long occupied the centre of the museum, has been repositioned. It will shortly undergo repairs.

The wall displays contain fresh artifacts. The gift shop is gone and will soon display a wrap-around history of Paris.

Overall, the museum feels brighter, more spacious and more orderly.

What has not changed – and will never change – is the warm welcome we offer our visitors and our willingness to find and make available the information people want.

Please make an appointment, put on a mask and come see the improvements our team has made.

Carol Goar