GPA Hosts Panel on Safely Reopening Philadelphia Historic Sites

Last month, Global Philadelphia Association(GPA) hosted a virtual panel regarding how to safely reopen historic sites during the current COVID-19 pandemic. The panel was a massive success, with an estimated 50 people in attendance. Moderated by GPA’s own Melissa Stevens, the hour-long event consisted of a discussion focused on public health and historic preservation concerns surrounding historic site reopenings. 

Our panelists included historic site directors and local experts such as Dr. Cheryl Bettigole, director of the Division of Chronic Disease and Injury Prevention at Philadelphia’s Department of Public Health, Nancy Van Dolsen, chief executive officer of Cliveden of the National Trust; Beth Beatty, executive director for Fort Mifflin; and Gwen Ragsdale, co-curator of the Lest We Forget Museum of Slavery

Each panelist answered questions regarding staff and visitor health, proper cleaning, and the conservation of sites, effective marketing, communication strategies, and managing safety and preservation costs. In addition, both panelists and attendees offered personal experiences from sites that have already reopened throughout the city. 

Much of the discussion centered around effective social distancing in inside spaces, managing visitor behavior, expectations, and how to safely clean historic objects and sites without causing damage. The panelists offered helpful advice and anecdotes, as well as web sources for further research. Attendees were also given the opportunity to ask questions of their own, that ranged from topics such as visitors who are unable to wear masks and cost-effective ways to clean artifacts.

 Article written by Samantha Anthony on behalf of Global Philadelphia Association