The National Park Service in the Navy Yard, the USS Constitution Museum and Old Ironsides herself will re-open to the public on a limited basis this Friday, Aug. 7 – marking a milestone for the historic attractions and giving them some time to welcome visitors during the summer tourist season.
Bob Wilbur of the National Parks of Boston confirmed this week that Aug. 7 would be the date they re-open at the Charlestown Navy Yard, and they will do that in conjunction with the USS Constitution ship and the USS Constitution Museum.
“We gradually want to ease our way back into visitor access and interpretation,” he said. “We’re planning to open up our Charlestown Navy Yard Visitor Center on Aug. 7. That’s in conjunction with the USS Constitution and the Constitution Museum opening.”
He said the open space at the Yard has been open throughout the duration of COVID-19, and some areas like the tennis courts and parks have gotten more use than ever before. Also, he said the Cassin Young would also be opening for a one-way, top side walk-through, but no tours below deck.
As for the Bunker Hill Monument, that still needs time, but the Museum is expected to open this month.
“We’re not going to open the Lodge or the Monument because they are constricted locations and I don’t know when we might be able to open those because of the challenges,” he said. “We do plan to open up the Bunker Hill Museum in August. There’s not a firm date yet, but sometime this month.”
The NPS at the Navy Yard will begin opening Weds. to Sunday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. moving forward – and they will close from noon to 2 p.m. for deep cleaning. There will only be 25 people allowed inside at a time, including employees.
“We’ll open on Friday to the public and then continue through Sunday,” he said. “Then we’ll close down, and re-open next Wednesday.”
That will run in conjunction with the Constitution ship.
Meanwhile, the USS Constitution Museum will reopen to the public on Friday, Aug. 7. Following that date, the Museum will be open Thursday-Sunday, 10 a.m.-5 p.m.
“When you walk in it’s a little different because it will be one way flow and there’s plastic sheeting and barrier there where you come in,” said Museum President & CEO Anne Grimes Rand. “We have a time ticket system as well so we can limit the number of people in the museum. We have marked off six-foot distances, but there is still a museum there. We want everyone to know that our staff are still the friendliest on the Freedom Trail and they are smiling below their masks. We do ask visitors to wear a mask when at the museum too…We are excited to say hello again, but it will be a little bit different.”
She said it is a different environment for sure, but it is also exciting to be able to welcome local visitors and tourists from afar into their space – which has been locked up for a majority of what is usually the busy summer season.
“It doesn’t feel right to be in the middle of the summer and to have the door locked when we have wonderful exhibits inside and we have people standing outside,” she said. “We all understand the focus is on safety and we’ll be doing this safely.”