The Carroll County Farm Museum, which has been closed since March 18 due to the coronavirus pandemic, has reopened, with new outdoor tours and a suggestion that visitors wear face coverings.
The museum canceled a slew of events after it closed during the emergence of the pandemic in Maryland, but at 9 a.m. July 22 it will reopen to the public. Joanne Morvay Weant, Farm Museum manager, conveyed the reopening plans to the Carroll County Times in an email Friday.
“We have some new outdoor tours, scavenger hunts and an outside game handout for children as well as our popular farm-themed playground,” Weant wrote.
Museum staff worked with the Carroll County Health Department and other county agencies to develop a safe plan for reopening, Weant said in the email.
She said the museum discourages people from visiting if they are ill, have been around someone who is ill, have traveled outside Maryland, have traveled in-state to an area with COVID-19 outbreaks, or think they have been exposed to COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus.
“The museum should be a place that all visitors can safely enjoy,” Weant wrote. “We can only do that if every visitor and staff member is vigilant in following the best safety practices for staying healthy during this outbreak.”
Visitors over the age of 2 years old are encouraged to wear masks while on the museum grounds. Visitors are encouraged to bring and use hand sanitizer, but hand sanitizer stations will also be available.
The playground and picnic tables will be open, though staff ask visitors to follow the state’s outdoor dining guidelines, sitting no more than six people at a table and keeping tables 6 feet apart. Staff also ask visitors to maintain proper distancing and wear masks on the playground. Alcohol and pets, other than service animals, are not permitted.
What’s not open
The farmhouse and living history center will remain closed because they are too small to allow for social distancing. Additionally, Weant, said staff would not be able to adequately disinfect the artifacts if there was a COVID-19 exposure. Artisans and volunteers will not return at this time.
Three new outdoor tours led by a guide in costume will allow staff to engage with visitors in a safe manner. Weant said staff developed these tours because the farmhouse cannot be opened.
Tour guides will wear masks, carry hand sanitizer and maintain proper social distancing.
A tour of the Hoff Barn will educate visitors on the history of the 1700s-era barn and the museum’s two oxen teams: Jack and Jim, and Bud and Bo. This tour will be offered at 11 a.m. Wednesdays through Fridays.
The historic buildings tour will take visitors past the museum’s historic outbuildings, including the Springhouse, Corn Crib, Historic Blacksmith Forge and Alms Barn. Visitors will learn what roles each building played on the farm. This tour will be offered at 1 p.m. Wednesdays through Fridays.
A farmyard friends tour will highlight farm animals and the role they played on the farm, including chores and animal care that children would have had to do in years past. The farm museum has oxen, sheep, goats, poultry and rabbits. This tour can be offered in place of either the Hoff Barn tour or historic buildings tour.
On Saturdays and Sundays, tours will be offered at noon, 1, 2, and 3 p.m.
Handouts will be available for people to take a self-guided tour, in case someone does not want a tour guide or arrives after tours have ended for the day.
Each tour lasts about 15 minutes with additional time for questions. The museum will offer two tours per day during the week. Tour groups can be no larger than 10 people, and visitors must be from the same group/family.
Scavenger hunts and games
Museum staff created two child-friendly scavenger hunts, one with photos and the other with questions that are suitable for both younger and older children.
Children can complete their scavenger hunts independently or on a tour. Instructions on how to play outdoor games such as red light, green light, and telephone will be available.
Checkerboard tables were refurbished while the museum was closed, and guests are invited to use them. Checkers and boards will be sanitized regularly.
Hours and discounted admission
Starting July 22, the farm museum is open from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Mondays through Fridays and noon to 4 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays.
Admission costs $3 per person for people age 9 or older, or $10 per family. Kids 8 and younger are free with a paying adult. Typically, tickets cost $5 per adult or $4 per senior.
An annual family membership costs $75. Current memberships will be extended due to COVID-19.