Last Updated on September 14, 2021 by Owen Fullerton, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
Fifteen local cultural heritage sites will participate in Doors Open Kingston next week.
The event opens up cultural heritage and built heritage spaces in the city for free, and is part of a larger network of Doors Open Ontario events throughout the province.
In 2019 Kingston wasn’t a part of Doors Open, but last year returned and due to lower than average COVID cases in the area was able to hold the only in person event in the province.
Kingston Association of Museums Managing Director Jamie McKenzie-Naish says as a city with such rich cultural history it was great to have the event back, and holding it in-person is so much better than virtually.
She says last year’s event went extremely well and they’re confident this year’s can too.
“We all want to re-engage and spend time together in our communities,” McKenzie-Naish said.
“We felt that with tight compliance to health and safety standards and COVID regulations that we could do that successfully, and we did!”
The event has had to shift from it’s previous drop-in format to a registration based system.
McKenzie-Naish says that measures for success of the event have shifted so wildly with COVID, saying in their peak year of 2017 there were 6,000 people through.
Last year had just 117 individuals, however tours were 95% booked.
This year there are fifteen sites participating compared to ten in 2020, including the Bellevue House which has been closed for renovations for several years while the gardens and visitor centre remained open to the public.
McKenzie-Naish says events like this, and cultural heritage sites in general, have to walk a line between respecting and honouring cultural heritage and history and being able to utilize them as a tourist attraction.
She says the work of museum professionals allows for that to happen successfully, and for people to learn more about their own history and the history of those around them.
“Our community is made up of lots of individuals from lots of different communities and we have differences and we have similarities,” McKenzie-Naish says.
“Cultural heritage is a wonderful place to explore that and to learn about something that you’re not familiar with.”
The Doors Open Kingston event will be held September 20-21 and 25-26 from 10 a.m to 6 p.m each day.
McKenzie-Naish adds that those interested in exploring other cities can access some virtual tours on the Doors Open Ontario website.
Registration for Doors Open and a list of participating sites can be found here.