STURBRIDGE, MA (WGGB/WSHM) -- It's a piece of local history where time stands still.

Before the COVID-19 pandemic, the Old Sturbridge Village was a living museum that recreated life in 19th-century New England, but back then the coronavirus didn't exist, and now the museum workers must follow special precautions to preserve the magic of the past while protecting against the virus of the present.

"One of the things that have always distinguished Old Sturbridge Village are our historians who are in costume interpreting life in the 1830s' as it was lived here in New England," said CEO and President of Old Sturbridge Village Jim Donahue.

A rich history that comes to life, a recreation of the past at Old Sturbridge Village, but the living museum now finds itself, in a new chapter in history, the COVID-19 pandemic.

The museum reopened to the public on the Fourth of July, with new measures to keep visitors safe. Donahue told Western Mass News maintaining a six-foot social distance is a must...

"On a museum of 300 acres, that’s pretty easy to do," Donahue noted.

Donahue also said they require masks and have set up hand sanitizing stations around the premises. Maybe not a common sight in the 1800s, but Donahue told us the biggest change is one that doesn't shatter the image of New England agriculture life.

"We brought more of our programming from inside of buildings to the outdoors so that folks don’t have to go inside to have the village experience," Donahue explained.

Space is only allowed to fill up to 20 percent capacity, and visitors are asked to buy tickets and schedule time slots ahead of time, to prevent large crowds from forming.

Creative solutions are set to give visitors the chance to escape and learn new things about old times.

"You know I didn’t know what to expect, but it was great! I learned new things," he said. "I saw things I had never seen before."

Donahue added the museum had a soft reopening a few days before today for members only, to test their new guidelines and protocols.

Copyright 2020 Western Mass News (Meredith Corporation).  All rights reserved.


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