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Jamestown cultural organizations prepared to reopen to the public

While prioritizing health and safety, four Jamestown, N.Y., cultural centers welcome the return of visitors to their distinctive facilities. They invite residents and travelers of all ages to enjoy learning about history and the natural world.

Since closing their doors in mid-March due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Jamestown cultural centers have been eagerly anticipating their reopening to the public.

The Robert H. Jackson Center, Roger Tory Peterson Institute (RTPI), Fenton History Center, and Audubon Community Nature Center all agree that the safety of their staff, volunteers, and visitors is their top priority.

“Our reopening is going to be cautious. We will reopen for tours of the Center next week starting on Monday, July 6, and we encourage people to make arrangements for those tours in advance” stated Kristan McMahon, president of the Jackson Center. “We require all visitors to wear masks, and we will provide disposable ones for those who do not bring their own. Guests will not be able to tour the Jackson Center without wearing a mask.” McMahon has made other accommodations to ensure safe physical distancing, such as providing docents with headsets and small speakers so that they can provide tours while maintaining distance. Additionally, the Jackson Center will not be returning to in-person programming just yet, but their virtual programs will continue.

Roger Tory Peterson Institute CEO Arthur Pearson echoes a similar voice of both excitement and caution.

“After months of careful planning and preparations, we’re nearly ready for a soft reopening of the museum on Tuesday, July 11. If everything goes according to plan, we’ll host a formal reopening on Saturday, July 18.” RTPI will limit museum attendance to one-third normal capacity and require visitors to wear masks and adhere to physical distancing – six feet apart, or the wingspan of a Bald Eagle.

Noah Goodling, executive director of the Fenton History Center, stated, “We opened the doors of the museum on June 30th, but we are still taking it slow to ensure the safety of our staff, volunteers, and guests. Our Research Center will remain closed until at least July 14th, and we will be limiting the number of visitors allowed inside at any given time. We will require masks, social distancing, and other protective measures of all guests.” Goodling is using a plan similar to the Jackson Center’s that includes a pause on in-person public programs through the summer, but he noted that the Fenton will also continue its virtual programming.

The Audubon Community Nature Center reopened its building for day camp programs starting June 30, but it is not opening up for walk-in visitors just yet.

“Providing a safe environment for our campers is our number one priority right now,” says Leigh Rovegno, Audubon’s executive director. “We will be allowing a few small rental groups on non-camp days, in addition to holding some of our regular programs in-person while allowing for safe distancing. Other than that, Audubon’s doors will remain closed to the general public until the end of the camp season.” However, Rovegno mentions that Audubon’s more than six miles of nature trails and Bald Eagle observation will continue to remain open to the public from dawn until dusk as they have throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.

For more information on how you can engage with each of these cultural gems of Jamestown, you can visit them at RobertHJackson.org, RTPI.org, FentonHistoryCenter.org, and AudubonCNC.org.

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