Museum reopening

Museums in Hunt County are gradually re-opening and resuming programs as the state of Texas tries to safely take steps back to something that resembles normalcy in the wake of COVID-19.

Museums in Hunt County are gradually re-opening and resuming programs as the state of Texas tries to safely take steps back to something that resembles normalcy in the wake of COVID-19.

The Audie Murphy/American Cotton Museum in Greenville re-opened two weeks ago and has so far been enjoying a steady trickle of visitors, and the Northeast Texas Children’s Museum in Commerce plans to re-open starting Tuesday, May 26, but will require families to call ahead to schedule their visits.

"By asking guests to register before coming to the Children's Museum, our staff can better control the numbers in the museum each day,” said Sharline Freeman, the director of the Northeast Texas Children’s Museum. “It will let us better plan for staffing and daily sanitation measures.

“These guidelines will be reevaluated as we move into June,” she added. “We want to keep children safe, but we also want to give them an opportunity to use their imagination and creativity.

“We know that play is very important to young children.”

Meanwhile, the Cotton Museum is moving ahead with the scheduling of special programs and presentations, including its “Lunch Break Special” series of talks and “Golden Oldie Movie Nights.”

“We’ve gone ahead and scheduled our Lunch Break Special for June 2, which will feature local author Lewis Smith, who will talk about writing historical fiction,” the Cotton Museum’s executive director, Susan Lanning, told the Herald-Banner. “We also plan to re-start our movie nights on May 30, with a showing of the old-timey western, ‘The Return of the Durango Kid.’

“We’ll have the events in a different part of the museum, though, to give visitors more space, so they can socially distance,” Lanning added.

While they currently don’t have any planned dates for any special programs, members of the Children’s Museum staff hope to host a long-delayed Easter Egg Hunt sometime within the following months, and they have already booked a birthday party for this Sunday.

“We’re ready to open Tuesday, by reservation, but we want to make sure we’re managing things in such a way that parents feel safe about bringing their kids,” Freeman said. “We’re just trying to take things one step and a time to make sure people feel safe.”

Last month, while the Children’s Museum was closed to the public, it hosted a scavenger hunt that kids could complete at their own pace and learn more about the City of Commerce as they identified various landmarks and filled out a worksheet. Children who have been able to complete the scavenger hunt will be able to turn their worksheets to get free admission into the museum once it re-opens Tuesday.

The Northeast Texas Children’s Museum’s hours will be 9:30 a.m. to noon, followed by an hour-long cleaning break before opening back up, from 1-4 p.m., and those who would like to schedule a visit can call 903-886-6055 or make a reservation through the museum’s webpage at www.netxcm.com.

Likewise, those with questions about the Audie Murphy/American Cotton Museum and its programming can call 903-450-4502 or find more information at www.cottonmuseum.com.

Travis Hairgrove is a news reporter and features writer at the Herald-Banner and covers city government for many municipalities in Hunt County. To reach him outside of business hours, email THairgroveReporter@gmail.com.

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