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Museum of Culpeper History to reopen April 15
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Museum of Culpeper History to reopen April 15

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In the latest hopeful sign of spring and growing vaccinations, the Museum of Culpeper History will re-open to the public next Thursday, April 15, it announced Thursday.

At 10 a.m., the regional museum will open its doors after being shuttered for 13 months because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We have missed greeting visitors from around the world who come to visit Culpeper, and are excited for this re-opening,” Museum Director Morgan Pierce said in a statement. “It will also be exciting to see our local friends and neighbors return for a visit to the museum and learn more about the history that surrounds us.”

The museum will host five brand-new temporary exhibits that should interest a wide cross-section of people who drop by, Pierce said.

The new exhibits going on view will include “Pride and Pageantry: The Town’s Bicentennial Celebration of 1959”; “Crazy in Culpeper”; “Toy Soldiers: The Civil War in Miniature”; “Preservation Culpeper: The A.P. Hill Building”; and “Artists in Culpeper: Elisabeth Piatt.”

“Pride and Pageantry” will feature photographs and media coverage of the town of Culpeper’s celebration of its first 200 years, as well as the bicentennial queen’s gown and the key to the town.

“Crazy in Culpeper” is devoted to a rotating display of crazy quilts designed and crafted by local residents.

“The Civil War in Miniature” features a prominent collection, from the museum’s trove, of highly detailed Union and Confederate tin soldiers manufactured by CBG Mignot in France. Founded in Paris in 1825, the firm quickly earned a global reputation for its beautifully painted lead soldiers. After nearly 200 years, Mignot’s toy soldiers and figurines are among the most sought-after collectibles.

“Preservation Culpeper” will discuss how downtown Culpeper’s A.P. Hill Building was restored in the early 2000s. The exhibit includes original artifacts from the prominent brick building at Main and Davis streets, the boyhood home of Confederate Lt. Gen. A.P. Hill.

“Artists in Culpeper” continues a series of exhibits showcasing the work of local painters and artists.

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Before the coronavirus pandemic hit, 2019 had been a banner year for the museum.

Compared to the rest of its four-decade history, it held the largest number of individual programs and had the greatest success with its fundraising events. It saw a record number of visitors, who came from 47 of the 50 U.S. states and 15 foreign countries.

As the pandemic continued, the museum remained temporarily closed to complete in-house maintenance, develop new exhibits and make significant progress on behind-the-scenes work with its collections, the director said.

Pierce said the museum’s staff is “greatly appreciative of all the support shown by the Town of Culpeper and our museum members as we have navigated the pandemic and created a safe environment to visit.”

In adherence to guidelines from the Virginia Department of Health and the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the museum will have several new safety procedures in place when it reopens.

Visitation will be limited to no more than 12 people at a time. Signs will remind visitors to practice social distancing, not to touch certain areas, and to use the hand-sanitizer stations upon entering and as needed.

For everyone’s protection, face coverings must be worn by all visitors over the age of 5. Directional arrows in a one-way route will guide visitors navigating through the galleries.

Any visitor feeling ill will be asked to remain at home until their symptoms disappear.

In downtown Culpeper, the Museum of Culpeper History is located in the historic train depot at 113 S. Commerce St.

Free to all children and to residents of Culpeper County, the museum will be open Thursday through Monday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

To learn more, please visit the institution’s website at culpepermuseum.com or call 540-829-1749.

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Clint Schemmer, a journalist since 1980, has worked at papers in California, North Carolina and Virginia. He’s been a bureau chief, editorial-page editor, copy desk chief and local news editor. Now a staff writer at the Culpeper Star-Exponent.

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