SCHENECTADY – Closed since mid-March due to COVID-19 restrictions, the Museum of Innovation and Science (miSci) in Schenectady will re-open to visitors on July 16, but won’t be as hands-on as it used to be.
MiSci has temporarily closed its interactive exhibitions that previously encouraged a visitor’s personal touch and has since created two miSci-curated exhibitions, “Sound Recording” and “Play!”
“We mined our own archives and are putting up two exhibitions – one that is dedicated entirely to play and the one that is dedicated entirely to sound recording, which is something that started right here in Schenectady,” said Bradley LaMere, vice president of marketing and communications, on Monday.
The “Sound Recording” exhibit highlights the museum’s own collection of some of the most important sound recording artifacts in the world, including America’s oldest surviving sound recording, an Edison tinfoil phonograph from 1878, a rare Berliner gramophone from the 1890s along with a Victrola phonograph and the story of Nipper, the famous ‘dog-and-gramophone’ photograph and recording.
The “Play” exhibit offers a look at recreational play over time, including a tricycle from the 1870s, a 1947 Soap Box Derby car and dolls dating back to the 19th century.
“Part of the reason that we chose sound recording was because it was something that didn’t require you to touch anything, something that you could just listen to and reflect on,” LaMere said.
Admission to miSci will be free with two sessions, 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and 1:30 to 4 p.m. Thursdays through Sundays, with limited availability and on-line tickets.
“We decided to make it free because we feel that it was important to open and we feel that’s important for the community to have access to our collections along with having family, fun activities to do,” LaMere said. “We’re opening it up for free and then those that choose to donate are welcome to do so.”
Tickets can be requested at www.misci.org/visit and admission tickets can be downloaded.
MiSci is also asking visitors to play an active role in reducing the risk of infection to others. The museum is asking people to take their temperature 24 hours before arriving; if it is above 100.4 degrees, or if they have tested positive for COVID-19 or been exposed to COVID and have not been quarantined, to postpone their visit.
Many businesses are adapting to new procedures, safety protocols and attempting to regain lost sales and revenue; miSci is no different.
“It’s been a change and I think we’re still very much adjusting,” LaMere said “This is something that a lot of museums are grappling with.
“We’re working with it as best as we can and at the end of the day, miSci and any good museum or cultural organization what you’re trying to do is tell stories.”
Reach Stan Hudy at [email protected] or @StanHudy on Twitter.