CANFIELD — Changes are coming to the War Vet Museum that include going to a hands-off format because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Located at 23 E. Main St., the museum also will open by appointment only starting Sept. 1 after being shut down since mid-March.
“We will start scheduling appointments starting in September,” museum director Doug Speece Jr. said. “It will be limited to small groups, and masks will be required.”
Tour groups will be limited to 10 and under based on the governor’s number for gatherings. The museum will be locked while the group is touring to prevent the public from walking in.
Speece said when the museum was opened almost 30 years ago, it had a hands-on philosophy to let visitors touch history. Founders Lewis and Pam Speece wanted children to learn by touching and holding history in their hands.
When the museum opens for appointments, the tours will be a hands-off event. Guests could be asked to start the tour by washing their hands.
“It has to be no-touch as we cannot sanitize 100-plus year old items,” Speece said.
The papers, uniforms and other items will not hold up to a sanitizing spray, which left a challenge to reopen the museum.
The other reason for the small groups by appointment is that the museum does not have enough room to social distance safely with a steady flow of visitors. The home the museum is housed in dates back to 1806.
As long as guests wear a mask, sanitize their hands, keep the group size small and keep their hands off of the artifacts, the museum will be able to conduct tours. Speece did say once a group is scheduled, no others can tour the facility until that first group exits the museum.
Over the past two months, Speece did take a few appointments for donations of items. The museum remained closed while he met the donors and accepted the artifacts. He said item donations are still being accepted by appointment as well.
Speece said it is best to call the museum at 330-533-6311 and leave a message as to setting up an appointment. As to group size, museum staff are still discussing how many should be allowed in a tour.
Speece said a school class could not meet whatever the maximum number would be, and he believes most groups right now would be families.