Dearborn's Greenfield Village reopens with pandemic precautions


Greenfield Village is offering rides in its old-timey "Omnibus" horse-drawn carriages. - COURTESY OF GREENFIELD VILLAGE
  • Courtesy of Greenfield Village
  • Greenfield Village is offering rides in its old-timey "Omnibus" horse-drawn carriages.

Greenfield Village, Dearborn's open-air historical museum, typically opens around April 15, but last year Michigan was under a stay-at-home order due to the pandemic.

Instead, director Jim Johnson says Greenfield Village "cautiously" reopened for the Fourth of July weekend last summer, and continued to tweak its pandemic processes through its Hallowe'en and Holiday Nights programs.

"We learned a lot as we made our way through," Johnson says.

This year, the museum expects to once again reopen for its traditional date in April. The grounds are set to open to the public this weekend with a member's only preview on Friday, April 16 (RSVP required) before opening to general public on Saturday, April 17.

Johnson says the museum has changed its program to eliminate most hands-on activities, and to make the historical buildings "as accessible as we can without mixing people inside buildings," he says. That means many buildings are presented from the outside.

"For the most part, we'll have every door we can open and various vantage points to let people see most everything," he says.

But new this year is a revamped replica of Thomas Edison's Menlo Park Laboratory, where guests will be allowed to walk through its first floor. Johnson says the building did not reopen last year due to a construction project, and it has now been "freshly painted for the first time in a long time."

Thomas Edison's Menlo Park Laboratory at Greenfield Village is open to the public again. - COURTESY OF GREENFIELD VILLAGE
  • Courtesy of Greenfield Village
  • Thomas Edison's Menlo Park Laboratory at Greenfield Village is open to the public again.

Also new this year, the museum is brining back horse-drawn carriage rides, which did not return in 2020. In this case, the museum has dusted off its "omnibus" carriages, in which the passengers are separated from the drivers in an enclosed cabin. Johnson says the museum will only allow people to ride together if they're in a group that traveled together to the museum (or a "pod" to use pandemic parlance), and the cabin will be cleaned between rides.

The 15-minute round-trip rides depart from the General Store area and are available to members with a ride pass.

The Henry Ford Museum of Innovation is also open seven days a week, where the Louis Comfort Tiffany: Treasures from the Driehaus Collection exhibit of Tiffany glass and lamps is on view through April 25. The museums' restaurants are also open with limited indoor seating, and outdoor seating when available.

Johnson says guests should visit for the most up-to-date information, since things change all the time throughout the pandemic.

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