What To Do: Nat’l Const. Center joins growing list of reopened attractions

By Denny Dyroff, Entertainment Editor, The Times 

The National Constitution Center

Just like blooms on mid-summer annual plants, things that have been closed for a while are now slowly starting to open up.

Attractions that have been shuttered for months are beginning to open their doors and welcome patrons. Getting out and enjoying them can be a great antidote for four months of cabin fever – as long as you wear masks and observe social distancing.

In Old City Philadelphia, the National Constitution Center (525 Arch Street, Philadelphia, https://constitutioncenter.org/) has gotten back in the game.

The National Constitution Center team is excited to welcome back visitors after temporarily closing to the public in the wake of COVID-19.

Beginning Wednesday, August 5, the National Constitution Center will be open and operational Wednesday through Saturday from 10 a.m.-3 p.m.

At this phase of reopening, the Center will offer free admission now through Saturday, September 5, 2020.

The National Constitution Center in Philadelphia brings together people of all ages and perspectives, across America and around the world, to learn about, debate, and celebrate the greatest vision of human freedom in history, the U.S. Constitution.

A private, nonprofit organization, the Center serves as America’s leading platform for constitutional education and debate, fulfilling its congressional charter “to disseminate information about the U.S. Constitution on a nonpartisan basis.”

Advanced timed tickets, which are free with online reservation, are required.

The American Helicopter Museum

The American Helicopter Museum & Education Center (1220 American Blvd., Brandywine Airport, West Chester, 610-436-9600, www.helicoptermuseum.org) is now open on weekends.

According to the museum’s website –

The American Helicopter Museum & Education Center’s mission is to preserve rotary-wing aviation history, educate society on helicopters and their missions and inspire future generations. We will collect, preserve, research, publish and exhibit the objects, artifacts and documents relating to the origins and development of rotary-wing aircraft.

We accomplish this through an active schedule of public educational programs, exhibitions, events, air shows, workshops and publications designed to teach the principles of flight, celebrate the pioneers of aviation and encourage and inspire future generations of engineers, scientists, innovators, pilots, mechanics and inventors!

Museum visitors are required to wear face coverings and practice social distancing in accordance with CDC guidelines. The museum staff has placed hand sanitizer throughout the building and will be cleaning surfaces at regular intervals. We appreciate our visitors’ cooperation in helping us to keep them, and our staff and volunteers, safe.

The museum is open Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays from noon-5 p.m. Admission is $10 for adults and $8 for seniors and students.

Penn Museum

Penn Museum (3260 South Street, Philadelphia, www.penn.museum) reopened a week ago with a two-hour admission window allotted per timed ticket.

The Penn Museum is the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology.

Archaeology is the study of objects made by humans. From the first traces of our earliest human ancestors to 21st-century buildings, archaeology analyzes the physical remains created or modified by people in pursuit of a broad understanding of our human experience.

Anthropology is the study of humans, past and present. To understand the full sweep and complexity of cultures across all of human history, anthropology draws and builds upon knowledge from social and biological sciences as well as the humanities and physical sciences.

The Museum is home to remarkable objects and powerful stories that emerge from its excavations and research across the world.

Visitors can connect with the cultures of Africa, Asia, the Americas, and the Mediterranean — from the very first cities of the Middle East to the pharaohs of ancient Egypt; from early Mexico to the lives of Native American communities today.

Guests can experience the richness of the ancient past, gain an understanding of our shared humanity, and find their own place in the arc of human history.

The museum listed the following guidelines – Book your contactless timed tickets in advance; Face coverings and symptom checking are required for all staff and visitors ages 2+; Please maintain at least a 6-foot distance from anyone not in your household group; Visitors are asked to follow a one-way route through the galleries, to maximize social distancing; Hand sanitizer and wipe dispenser stations are available throughout the Museum. We have also installed plexiglass barriers in areas where transactions occur; Capacity limits for each gallery and public space, based on square footage, are posted throughout the Museum.

Admission is $18 for adults, $16 for seniors, and $13 for children (ages 6-17).

Taller Puertorriqueño

Taller Puertorriqueño (El Corazón Cultural Center, 2600 North 5th Street, Philadelphia, www.tallerpr.com)is gradually opening.

Starting this month, the gallery is open to the public from 1-4 p.m. To ensure safety, security, and a quality experience, capacity is limited and visits are timed.

The “Henry Bermudez: Wilderness in Mind” exhibition has been extended with the reopening of the gallery.

For his show at Taller, Bermudez is presenting a site-specific installation in the center of the gallery representing a new avenue of investigation. The show also features rarely seen and recent work.

His paintings, drawings, and installations are elaborate and rich with distinctive patterns that reference the Amazon jungle and contain Mexican, Peruvian, and Afro Latino influences. Bermudez is a process-intensive artist who creates monumental works that are both organic and geometric.

In recent years Bermudez’s work has become more overtly political in addressing the politics of race, beauty, climate change, and immigration.

In Philadelphia, Bermudez has flourished as a muralist, curator, and art instructor, currently teaching art at Fleisher Art Memorial and Career Academy Development Institute (CADI). He is also co-director at House Gallery1816 in Fishtown, where he maintains an active studio and exhibition schedule.

Henry Bermudez has had more than 31 solo shows and has exhibited internationally. In 1986 he was selected to represent Venezuela in the XLII Biennale di Venezia, in Venice, Italy. Having worked in the United State since 2003, he settled in Philadelphia in 2004.

In respect for the COVID-19 pandemic, the gallery has listed these basic guidelines — Masks must be worn at all times in the building; A maximum of five people in the gallery with a duration of 45 minutes for each visit; The physical distancing of six feet must also be maintained.

Admission is free and free visitor parking is available in the rear of building.

Franklin Square (Sixth and Race streets, Philadelphia, http://www.historicphiladelphia.org/) has reopened.

Franklin Square

Franklin Square’s 180-year-old, historic centerpiece has been renovated and updated into a dynamic state-of-the-art Fountain Show featuring spectacular dancing water effects and colored lights choreographed to music.

In celebration of Franklin Square’s reopening, visitors can enjoy free Fountain Show performances every 30 minutes on the hour and half hour from noon until 9 p.m.

Philly Mini Golf, the Parx Liberty Carousel, both playgrounds, and SquareBurger have reopened for your enjoyment from 10 a.m.-9 p.m. daily (SquareBurger closes at 8 p.m.). And, in celebration of reopening, The Franklin Square Fountain Show is running every 30 minutes from noon-9 p.m. daily through September 7.

Contact-less entry is available for those who purchase their Philly Mini Golf and Parx Liberty Carousel tickets in advance.

Franklin Square is following thorough health and safety protocols to keep its staff and visitors safe. Masks are required on all attractions, and social distancing signage is located throughout the park.

Franklin Square’s website posted these messages –

We know you are looking forward to being outdoors and stretching your legs, so Franklin Square has created new free and healthy activities for the entire family. Follow the scenic loop around the park three times and you’ve already done a mile! For the little ones, follow the zany activities outlined on the Franklin Square Silly Stroll along the four walkways. Show us how you can jump, dance, spin and more!

Franklin Square is following thorough health and safety protocols to keep our staff and visitors safe.

To help keep all visitors and staff safe, please wear a mask. Wearing a mask in public is required by the City of Philadelphia. All employees will be wearing masks, and so will our favorite carousel horses, Afleet Alex and Smarty Jones. Masks are required to ride the Parx Liberty Carousel and play on the Philly Mini Golf course.

Spirit of Philadelphia

Spirit of Philadelphia (401 South Delaware Avenue, Philadelphia, www.hornblower.com) has resumed cruising along the Delaware River.

Departing from its berth at Penn’s Landing, the attractive ship, which is run by Hornblower Cruises and Events, is offering outdoor lunch and dining experiences while motoring up and down the river.

The cruises provide patrons with the opportunity to experience the vibrant energy and rich history of Philadelphia from a unique perspective — from the water. Guests can soak in the atmosphere of revitalized Penn’s Landing, sail past cityscapes, view historic ships, and more on Sprit of Philadelphia’s unforgettable cruises.

Tickets start at $52.90.

Visitors to Delaware Avenue in the Penn’s Landing area will be able to light up the night at Spruce Street Harbor Park with “Bright Lights, Our City,” a brand-new light installation programmed on the iconic lights at the park.

Created by FKB Studio, the fun experience allows visitors to create their own light display by placing their hands on the Univest logos on a specially designed, branded kiosk. For the safety of our guests, a hand sanitizing station will be close by for visitors to use afterward.

As individuals interact with the kiosk, light patterns and color palettes will change, creating a living tapestry throughout the Park. The installation will be available nightly and visitors will be able to enjoy it throughout the summer and fall.

Visitors will be required to wear masks unless they are eating or drinking. Food and beverage lines will be limited to 10 persons at a time. Bathrooms are open to the public and sanitized hourly.

Sanitizing stations will be available throughout the park. There will be no hammocks. Special signage and ground graphics will be posted to help visitors practice physical distancing.

Eastern State Penitentiary (2027 Fairmount Ave, Philadelphia, www.easternstate.org) will reopen to the public on August 14. In its first phase of reopening, the venue will be offer hours Friday through Sunday from 10 a.m.-5 p.m.

All tickets must be purchased online in advance. No tickets will be available at the door. In order to maintain 25% capacity and allow for physical distancing, visitors will select a 30-minute entry window.

Staff and visitors (ages 2+) will be required to wear a face mask over their nose and mouth at all times. If you do not have your own mask, you can purchase a fabric mask when you buy your ticket online.

Hand sanitizer will be available, and visitors will be asked to sanitize their hands before entering the site. Physical distancing will be required in any queues and throughout the site. Markers will be present to help ensure that groups of visitors remain 6 feet apart at all times.

When possible, doors will be propped open to increase ventilation of enclosed areas. Cleaning, particularly of high-touch areas, will be increased. Plexiglass shields will be installed in admissions and at any other points of contact

Visitors will follow a linear, one-way path through the site. Areas of the penitentiary accessible along this path include the main audio tour route (Cellblocks 1 and 4, central surveillance hub), the baseball field (including The Big Graph), Prisons Today, Cellblock 15 (Death Row), Cellblocks 2, 10, and 9, and Al Capone’s Cell.

Printed maps will not be available. You may take a photo of a map displayed in front of the penitentiary or view a digital map, which will be made available on our website. All audio guides will be thoroughly sanitized between uses. Disposable earbuds will be distributed, or feel free to bring your own.

Eastern State Penitentiary was once the most famous and expensive prison in the world, but stands today in ruin, a haunting world of crumbling cellblocks and empty guard towers.

Known for its grand architecture and strict discipline, this was the world’s first true “penitentiary,” a prison designed to inspire penitence, or true regret, in the hearts of prisoners.

Its vaulted, sky-lit cells once held many of America’s most notorious lawbreakers, including bank robber “Slick Willie” Sutton and Al Capone.

Alphonse “Scarface” Capone got his first taste of prison life in Philadelphia.

Capone stopped in Philadelphia while traveling from Atlantic City back to his home in Chicago in May 1929. He was arrested outside a movie theater for carrying a concealed, unlicensed .38 caliber revolver. The Philadelphia courts were tough.

They handed Capone the maximum sentence — one year in prison. Capone served seven months of that sentence in this cell.

But while the Philadelphia courts tried to make an example of Chicago’s famous bootlegger, the officials at Eastern State Penitentiary were very nice to Al Capone.

Philadelphia newspapers noted that Capone’s cell contained fine furniture, beautiful rugs, tasteful paintings, and a fancy radio. He liked to listen to waltzes in his cell.

Admission is $15 for adults, $13 for seniors, and $11 for students and children ages 7-12. (Not recommended for children under the age of seven.)

Fonthill Castle (East Court Street, Doylestown, Mercer Museum, https://www.mercermuseum.org/visit/mercer-museum/) just flipped its sign over from “closed” to “open” on August 3.

Built between 1908-1912, Fonthill Castle was the home of archaeologist, anthropologist, ceramist, scholar and antiquarian Henry Chapman Mercer (1856-1930). Mercer built Fonthill Castle as his home and as a showplace for his collection of tiles and prints.

The castle serves as an early example of reinforced concrete and features 44 rooms (each in a different shape), Gothic doorways, more than 200 windows, 32 stairways, a variety of dead ends and 18 fireplaces.

Fonthill Castle’s interior features Mercer’s renowned, hand crafted ceramic tiles designed at the height of the Arts and Crafts movement.

In order to limit on-site staff interaction, as well as prioritize entry, all members and guests should reserve or purchase tickets prior to their visit online. You can bring a print-out of your ticket or your mobile phone confirmation as proof of purchase.

Any remaining tickets for timed-entry slots will be available for purchase at our castles on a first-come, first-served basis each day.

Admission is $15 for adults, $13 for seniors and $8 for youth (ages 6-17).

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