Historic sites and museums around Pa. reopen after year-long COVID-19 shutdown

Lancaster

LANCASTER COUNTY, Pa. (WHTM) — After being closed for more than a year due to COVID-19, about two dozen historic sites and museums owned by the state of Pennsylvania were allowed to reopen on Friday. These included the Landis Valley Village & Farm Museum and the Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania in Lancaster County.

In March of 2020, attractions administered by the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, including the State Museum of Pennsylvania, were shut down as a coronavirus safety precaution.

“We lost our income, and we lost the ability to achieve our mission [of] connecting people to our history,” says David Blackburn, site administrator for the Landis Valley Village & Farm Museum. Entrance and programming fees and gift shop revenue all halted when the museum closed.

The Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania was in a similar position, explains Troy Grubb, a museum educator with the facility. Even though they couldn’t have guests in the building, Railroad Museum employees were still hard at work, though. They developed virtual programming and even completed some new exhibits, Grubb explains.

On April 30, visitors could return to the museums again, albeit with some COVID-19 safety precautions still in place. Guests must wear masks and social distance, and the museums are currently operating with limited capacities and limited hours.

Visitors are excited to return. By about lunchtime on Friday, more than 100 people had come through the doors of the Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania, Grubb says.

Museum employees are excited to reopen, as well. “It actually feels great to be open and to talk to visitors again in person,” Grubb said.

“This has been an unprecedented time,” Blackburn said. “It’s been unique and challenging and scary and interesting, so we are thrilled to be here. I am so happy to be reopening, so happy to be welcoming visitors back.”

The Landis Valley Village & Farm Museum, located in Lancaster, showcases Pennsylvania German culture and history from 1740 to about 1940. It’s open Fridays and Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Sundays from noon to 4 p.m. More information about the museum can be found on its website here.

The Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania is located in Strasburg, and it presents all kinds of train history from train cars to a mock railway town. It is open 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays and noon to 4 p.m. on Sundays. Additional information about the museum is available on its website here.

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