Museum to reopen Sunday with safety measures


The Dubois County Museum will reopen Sunday.

Director Shirley J. Ray said there’s a lot of work happening to get the museum ready. “Volunteers just returned this week, having been out since March,” she said.

According to the Back on Track Indiana plan for reopening the state, Indiana moved into stage four of the plan today, which allows more places to open.

“We have updated some of our rotating exhibits to the summer scene,” Ray said. “And there are other new features.”

The Jasper Rotary Club has installed at the museum a permanent exhibit of ATHENA International Leadership Award recipients, which will open next week. The award recognizes women who excel professionally, enhance their communities and encourage women leaders. The exhibit will be revealed at 5 p.m. Thursday. An exhibit on pioneering women is also being created and should open soon, Ray said.

Nifty Nights will launch this month. On one evening, usually on the last Thursday of the month, people can visit the museum free of charge. A special program will also be held that evening.

“We are excited about that. March was when we wanted to start those initially,” Ray said. “So, if all goes well, keep your fingers crossed, this will be the first month for that.”

The first one is set for Thursday, June 25, from 5:30 to 8 p.m. The theme is “Bugs, Butterflies & Fish.” It will include story time for children and activities, including learning how to tie a fly fishing fly. Each month will have a different theme.

The museum is requesting that people take the safety cautions as they have been recommended by health officials.

“We are asking our visitors to accommodate the mask rules,” Ray said. “We are providing masks for those who do not have them, and we’ll collect them and process them hygienically.”

The floors in the main area will be marked so that people can see how far apart they should be to practice social distancing. There will be signage reminding people to not be too close to each other.

“We hope people will be respectful of each other and keep their distance,” Ray said. “Fortunately, we have a massive gallery, so it should not be that difficult to do, we hope.”

The museum’s children’s area/little pioneers area will remain closed. The regular storytime program is also suspended until further notice, due to safety concerns.

Since closing the museum in March because of the coronavirus, organizers have been working to keep people engaged with the museum since they couldn’t go inside the building. That led to the creation of video recordings of different exhibits explained by Kathy Bachman, head of the publicity committee. Those will still be made, even after the museum reopens.

“We’ve been getting a good response on those,” Ray said. “We’re trying to uncover the little hidden exhibits throughout the building that people maybe don’t always see.” In the future, she hopes to get some of the museum’s tour guides to also do videos.

Museum officials are also looking to the future. Plans are in the works to update the museum’s website. And soon, a survey will be available to get the public’s opinion on different topics, including how to increase participation at the museun, as well as on the theme of future satellite exhibits that will be launched next year.

“The survey will cover visitors’ expectations, what kinds of things they would want to see in the gift shop and the museum store online,” Ray said. “This survey is very general. But there will be more surveys as we narrow down plans.”

Once the survey is created, the link will be shared on the museum’s Facebook and Twitter accounts.

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