Student Museum Musings – Tour-less no longer

By Adam A., Summer Student

Hello! I am Adam, you may recall me from previous years’ summer student musings. This year I am the Summer Heritage Gardener, which naturally means that I am working on creating entries for one of the museum’s web projects. All joking aside I do work in the gardens on Fridays, which provides a nice change of pace from researching and writing about various historically relevant sites around Oshawa.

Normally, being called away to lead a tour would provide a break from my desk work. However, prior to this week we haven’t been conducting any tours due to COVID-19. Working at the museum without running any tours has been an interesting experience. Leading tours was always a high point of my day. I always really appreciated the chance to stretch my legs and interact with people. I would have the tour script and all manner of additional factoids memorized, and I would be eager to see what the visitors find most interesting or engaging.

Tuesday, July 14 was the museum’s first tour. However the new system for tours is quite different from what it would normally be.

As I’m sure most of you can remember, a tour would normally be arranged on the spot in Guy House.  It would normally start by heading out to Robinson House to see the temporary exhibit and the Indigenous history exhibit. After that it would normally head over to Henry House to see what a mid-1800s home would look like. After that I personally liked to conclude with a visit to the drive shed to see the carriages through the glass doors. Tours take anywhere from 20 minutes to over and hour.

Precisely none of that applies this year. Tours are booked online for a specific time slot. The tour is of Henry House. Visitors are to download/stream an audio tour which will guide them through Henry House – our podcast channel, Oshawa Musings, is available on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts and through our Podcast hosting website. A staff member, such as myself, will be present to answer any additional questions and wipe down any surfaces that the visitor touches, but the audio tour is meant to do the guiding and presenting. Tours will be strictly limited to the time block that was booked online.

One commonality between the two tours is that they both conclude with the offer to go to Guy House to visit the gift shop and gallery space. The gift shop has been modified to minimize points of contact, and the Verna Conant Gallery will play host to a photograph based exhibit.

This is a very different sort of tour from what is normally offered, but it is hoped that this will minimize instances of close contact between visitors and staff/surfaces. I look forward to seeing how these new tours work out!

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