COVID-19 has affected everyone in 2020. Most businesses shut down, and while some--such as restaurants--reopened within a few weeks, others--like salons, breweries, and libraries--had to wait for months. The Bellamy Mansion Museum closed down on March 17; the beginning of Phase 1 for North Carolina, and was not able to reopen for almost six months.
Due to the six-month closure, the Bellamy Mansion Museum lost between $25,000 and $40,000 a month, which is almost ⅔ earned income for the entire year. Other local museums and historic sites suffered from the closure too including the Cameron Art Museum, the Railroad Museum, the Children’s Museum of Wilmington, Poplar Grove Plantation, the Latimer House, the Burgwin-Wright House & Gardens and even state sites like Fort Fisher and Brunswick-Town/Fort Anderson.
The spring and summer months are always the busiest season for local historic sites and museums, and those tourism dollars help sustain the non-profits through the fall and winter months. Rentals were cancelled. Planned events were postponed. And even now that the museums and historic sites are reopened, area tourism will likely not rebound fully for at least another year.
During the six-month closure, the four full time staff members at the Bellamy Mansion Museum worked from home, on maintenance at the museum, and on projects with their parent organization--Preservation North Carolina . The staff created a Distance Learning page at bellamymansion.org that includes a 3-dimensional virtual tour of the site along with relaunching the museum’s website with a brand new look. The staff also assisted Preservation North Carolina with its virtual “Shelter Series” of free webinars.
On September 11th the museum finally reopened to the public. While we are excited to be able to welcome visitors in person, there are some new COVID-19 procedures and protocols required for the museum to remain open. The new rules include:
The Bellamy Mansion Museum tour hours are Mondays-Saturdays from 10:00 am to 4:00 pm and Sundays from 1:00 pm to 4:00 pm. We are located at 503 Market Street, Wilmington, NC 28401.
Written by Carolyn Harris (UNCW student; Bellamy intern) and Leslie Randle-Morton.