On Friday, May 8, the Trustees of Reservations and Fruitlands Museum announced that Fruitlands, as well as four other flagship Trustees properties, will reopen for walking, picnicking, and other safe, recreational activities on May 20. But visitors, both members and nonmembers, must purchase their tickets online in advance; they will be turned away if they arrive without one.
Advance tickets are being required, Fruitlands Museum Director Michael Busack told the Press, due to problems that arose in March, shortly before the museum closed to the public because of safety concerns regarding the COVID-19 pandemic. Fruitlands staff reported that patrons had left behind a large amount of trash, and that parking lots had become overcrowded and roadways clogged. Conditions were potentially unsafe due to the difficulty of maintaining social distancing on the trails, grounds, and in the parking lots.
In an email to the Press announcing the reopening, Busack wrote, “It is imperative that we avoid these situations moving forward,” and he asked for the public’s help in keeping Fruitlands a safe environment during these unprecedented times.
“We are so excited to offer access to one of our special places, but want to work with local authorities to ensure safety.”
In his email, Busack said he understood the need to be outside right now, but unsafe practices and ignoring safety guidelines puts an unnecessary strain on local police departments and forces the museum to consider closure and a delay in openings of other Trustees properties, such as Crane Beach in Ipswich.
Fruitlands plans several measures to ensure visitors maintain proper social distancing. Signs with warnings and safety information will be posted throughout the 215-acre property and 3 miles of hiking trails, and the Trustees have informed the Board of Health and Select Board, as well as the police and fire chiefs of their plans.
“Our hope is that people will be respectful and understanding during these strange times,” said Busack.
Fruitlands patrons will not be allowed to use restrooms on the grounds, nor can they enter the museum buildings, café, or gift shop, which are closed. Parking will be at half capacity in order to create distance between cars to better maintain social distancing. Advance tickets are capped at 200 cars per day.
Beginning May 20, Fruitlands will be open from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. every day except Tuesdays, when the grounds are closed. To purchase a ticket, visitors must go to www.eventbrite.com/e/103340377852, pick a day, and, if a nonmember, pay a $10 fee per vehicle. There is no charge for members. On arrival, visitors will be asked to provide proof of admission for the designated date, either through presentation of printed/mobile ticket, or by name.