Museums, tourist attractions prepare to welcome back visitors

After being closed for more than three months, museums, galleries and landmarks are reopening — with some limits. When announcing stage 2 of reopening earlier this month, the province said these establishments could open, but any interactive or high contact exhibits have to remain closed.

All interactive and high contact exhibits, activities must remain closed

Tourist attractions, like Science North in Sudbury, are preparing to reopen to visitors after a three month shutdown due to COVID-19. They can reopen as part of phase two, but with restrictions. (Science North)

After spending more than three months shuttered, museums, galleries, historical sites, landmarks and attractions are reopening  — with some limits.

When announcing stage 2 of reopening earlier this month, the provincial government allowed attractions to be a part of that.

But interactive or high contact exhibits would remain closed. 

In the northeast a few museums have opened while others are preparing to do so.

Bushplane Museum now reopened

The Canadian Bushplane Heritage Centre in Sault Ste Marie, Ont., allowed visitors back in this week.

"It was pretty exciting to be able to welcome our supporters back and our guests back," executive director Dan Ingram said. 

Dan Ingram is the executive director of the Canadian Bushplane Heritage Centre in Sault Ste. Marie. (Submitted by Dan Ingram)

The museum has had to make all of its hands-on activities off limits, including the children's area and theatres. Ingram says the touchscreen story boards, with information on exhibits, are now playing on an infinite loop.

"I like to say the stuff the kids really enjoy getting their hands in are closed, but we've redesigned the museum, we brought out some of the items we had in our archives to augment the viewing," he said.

Ingram says every exhibit the museum has for visitors is still there to see.

"They're not going to miss anything as far as viewing what's in the museum. They're just going to miss that play experience that we really enjoy our customers having."

Timmins Museum opening June 29

The Timmins Museum and National Exhibition Centre will be opening back up to visitors on Monday. 

"We are taking it slowly," says director/curator Karen Bachmann, who says the museum is open with limited hours of operations and not open on weekends. 

Karen Bachmann is the director-curator for the Timmins Museum National Exhibition Centre. (Supplied: Timmins Museum National Exhibition Centre)

"We want to get our bearings before we start to do that."

Bachmann says the closure in mid March happened two weeks after they had just opened a new permanent gallery. That space will be available as part of reopening, along with a new exhibition in early July.

The Timmins Museum's public and children's programs are moving online, accessed through their website or Facebook page.

However Bachmann says the online options can't beat the real physical components.

"You don't get the same feeling."

"So I'm hoping that simply because we don't have the VR component that's one thing that people can't experience, but I think being able to experience the exhibitions through the artifacts and actually seeing the things in front of them I think makes a bit of a difference for museum goers."

Science North: yes; Dynamic Earth: no 

Science North in Sudbury expects to open its doors in early July, but only to members of the science centre — at first.

Any interactive or high contact exhibit will have to remain closed.
Guy Labine is the CEO of Science North in Sudbury. (Bienvenu Senga/Radio-Canada)

CEO Guy Labine says that means some fan favourites won't be available, for now.

"Our IMAX theatre, our object theatres and the planetarium will not reopen as part of this phase."

"To make up for that our Blue Coat team is looking at how we can create new experiences that could include things outside, in the market place or in the Vale cavern."

"There's no playbook as part of this."

Labine also says its other Sudbury attraction — Dynamic Earth — won't be opening anytime soon.

"A lot of the elements at Dynamic Earth are very hands-on, interactive, high touch and we have a glassed-in elevator that is part of the visitor experience that takes people underground," he said.

"It's important that we do this in a way that allows us to meet expectations that are safe and within the confines and within the direction we've been provided," Labine said.

CBC News also spoke with the Northern Ontario Railroad Museum and Heritage Centre in Capreol. The board of directors is scheduled to meet on July 9, at which time a reopening date will be set. 

As per the government's regulations, reopening museums, galleries, heritage sites and tourist attractions could have limited capacity, reduced hours of operation, directional arrows, heightened cleaning regiments and physical distancing guidelines.


Angela Gemmill


Angela Gemmill is a CBC journalist who covers news in Sudbury and northern Ontario. Connect with her on Twitter @AngelaGemmill. Send story ideas to


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