The Johnstown Area Heritage Association (JAHA) is reopening the Johnstown Children’s Museum to the public, beginning on Aug. 27.
JAHA closed the entire Heritage Discovery Center and Johnstown Flood Museum on March 16 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. On June 9, JAHA reopened the Johnstown Flood Museum and all exhibits in the Heritage Discovery Center except for the Johnstown Children’s Museum, which is located on the building’s third floor.
Currently, the Johnstown Flood Museum is operating on a five-day schedule: Wed.-Sat. from 10:00 am-5:00 pm, and Sun. 12:00 pm-5:00 pm. The Heritage Discovery Center is open three days: Thurs.-Sat. 10:00 am-5:00 pm.
“The children’s museum is a hands-on space, and we wanted to make sure we had a detailed plan for keeping visitors safe before we reopened it,” explained Richard Burkert, president and CEO of JAHA. “Reservations, cleaning protocols, and limiting the number of people in that space are key parts of the plan.”
The children’s museum is beginning its reopening process by holding special JAHA members-only days from Aug. 13-15 and Aug. 20-22.
“We are grateful to JAHA members for their patience through this trying period,” said Deb Winterscheidt, JAHA director of development and membership services. “Many of our members are families with young children who love to visit the children’s museum, and it’s been wonderful to have them back.”
Visitors are invited to experience the Johnstown Children’s Museum in two-hour sessions. The museum’s capacity within each slot will be limited to four families, for a maximum of 20 people at the children’s museum at any one time. Masks are required for visitors over the age of 2.
JAHA strongly encourages children’s museum visitors to call ahead and pre-pay to reserve a two-hour slot. JAHA members should also call ahead to reserve a slot. Walk-up visitors to the children’s museum will be accepted only if space is available. (Reservations are not required, however, to visit the Johnstown Flood Museum or other portions of the Heritage Discovery Center.)
Each room of the Johnstown Children’s Museum will be cleaned every hour, and play items such as blocks, books, play food, and other frequently-touched items will be rotated and cleaned throughout the day. Certain exhibits and play items, such as the coal mine and dress-up clothes, that are difficult to sanitize repeatedly have been closed or removed.
“We’ve made thoughtful decisions about what to close, and tried to explain it in a way that makes sense for kids and is in keeping with the museum’s educational theme,” said Marisa Tracey, director of children’s museum programming for JAHA. “We also encourage families to bring their own dress-up clothes, if they like.”
Complete details on COVID-related safety procedures and protocols can be found here.
JAHA has also renewed its campaign to replace the Heritage Discovery Center’s elevator, which had a catastrophic failure in January. An emergency GoFundMe fundraiser was launched in January to pay for the $90,000 repair, which requires a custom part.
“We had raised a little more than $15,000 when the pandemic shut down our museums in March,” Burkert explained. “We’ve taken a variety of steps to keep the campaign going in this challenging time, and have just sent a letter to friends and supporters. We’re pleased to report that the campaign has now raised more than $23,000, but we need the continued support of our community to make our goal.”
You can support JAHA’s emergency elevator campaign securely online at the button below, or send a check designated “elevator fund” to JAHA at PO Box 1889, Johnstown, PA 15907.