For the first time in 73 years, Shelburne Museum won't open for summer

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Published: May. 4, 2020 at 12:25 PM EDT
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The Shelburne Museum is closed for the summer season. It's the first time in its 73 years of operations. That shutdown means no exhibits and not concerts. Our Kiernan Brisson found out what led to the decision and what it means for the town.

"It's simply too hard to actually invite the public into the museum spaces right now and achieve social distancing and be responsible stewards of the community and the museum," Museum Director Thomas Denenberg said.

Denenberg says the museum has been talking for weeks with other museums across the country and when it was time to make a call, they decided it would be safest to leave their gates closed.

"So, unfortunately, we will be closed for the foreseeable future," Denenberg said.

While the museum grounds are wide and expansive, Denenberg noted the exhibits themselves can be small, which is where they would run into trouble. He also noted that a large number of customers are senior citizens.

"We thought it would be irresponsible to invite congregations of populations of older visitors," Denenberg said.

Lee Krohn is the Shelburne town manager. He says the town supports the museum's decision but is sad that they won't be opening this summer.

"It wasn't really a surprise although it's hard to hear," Krohn said.

The museum pumps $15 million a year into Shelburne's economy.

"Clearly it's a huge piece of the whole puzzle of what makes Shelburne a special place to be, so, again, we are certainly saddened by the news but certainly understand it and we'll all do our best to help support them," Krohn said.

For now, the museum will continue to monitor the pandemic and see if they can reopen later in the year but they assure their online resources will remain available for schools and the community.

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