July 14, 2021

New Jersey State Museum Set to Reopen Next Week

“HADROSAURUS”: A life-sized cast of New Jersey’s state dinosaur is part of the “Written in the Rocks” exhibit at the New Jersey State Museum in Trenton. The Museum will reopen to the public with a series of events scheduled for July 24 and 25. Visit statemuseum.nj.gov for more information.

The New Jersey State Museum, located at 205 West State Street in Trenton, has announced that it will reopen for public visitation next week. Closed in March 2020 due to the pandemic, the Museum will open for member early access starting Tuesday, July 20. The public is welcome back on Saturday, July 24.

The State Museum — following applicable state and federal health and safety guidelines — is prioritizing staff and visitor health and safety as it continues its commitment to being a trusted resource for shared cultural and natural heritage. To that end, masks will be required for all visitors over the age of 2, and social distancing is encouraged.

An assortment of fun, family-friendly events and activities will be offered to welcome guests back into the buildings. The main Museum building will be open from 9 a.m. to 4:45 p.m. (galleries begin closing at 4:30 p.m.), Tuesday through Sunday; and the Auditorium galleries are open Tuesday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. The Museum is closed to the public on Mondays and state holidays.

On Saturday and Sunday, July 24 and 25, visitors are invited to enjoy discounted Planetarium shows, curator-led gallery tours, hands-on activities outdoor on the Museum plaza, and story time on the lawn for the Museum’s youngest guests and their families. Guests will also receive a free 24 ounce water bottle, one per person, while supplies last.

Planetarium shows will be discounted $2 off all tickets, all weekend. Four shows will be offered each day at noon, 1, 2, and 3 p.m. Visit the Museum website (statemuseum.nj.gov) for show titles and descriptions.

In addition to enjoying a Planetarium show, guests are encouraged to participate in a gallery tour to hear directly from experts on the new additions to the exhibitions that have taken place while the building has been closed. On Saturday, July 24 at 2 p.m. visitors can drop in for a short tour of the changes to the “Written in the Rocks” exhibition, led by David Parris, curator of natural history, which highlights the installation of the nearly complete Hyposaurus skeleton, a pre-historic crocodilian that lived in what is now Gloucester County about 65 million years ago. It was previously on view in the exhibition “Jersey Crocs Rule.”

On Sunday, July 25 at 2 p.m., visitors can drop by for a tour of changes to “American Perspectives: The Fine Art Collection” galleries led by Margaret O’Reilly, Museum executive director/curator of fine art. Presented in a chronological format, these galleries feature selections from the Museum’s fine art collection which often reflect the times in which the works were made. Changes in Gallery 10 (2000-present) and Gallery 9 (1980s-2000) were brought on by new acquisitions in the past few years. One of the newest works is a standing wood and mixed media figure by the late sculptor Jonathan Shahn (1928-2020) in Gallery 9.

The Museum is thrilled to have a painting of the sculptor by Mel Leipzig (b.1935) in Gallery 10. The painting shows not just Shahn, but his sculpture which is on view in the adjacent gallery.

The short-term exhibition “Fine Feathered Friends: Birds as Mainstay and Muse,” which had opened just a short while before the Museum closed, will be open for viewing. Also continuing on view will be “Preserving the Pinelands: Albert Horner’s Portraits of a National Treasure,” which features photographs of New Jersey’s Pinelands along with Pinelands-related artifacts and specimens.

The young (and young at heart) can participate in several self-directed outdoor activities, including sidewalk chalk art, creating a paper “quilt” square to be added the displayed community quilt, and Story Time under the Sycamore with the Museum’s Early Learning Coordinator Kerry Scott at 10:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m.

Museum members will enjoy Early Access and special free programming starting July 20. Members visiting between July 20 and the morning of July 24 will be able to select one free “take and make” craft kit per person along with a free water bottle. July 20 through July 23, members can also reserve a complimentary boxed lunch. Each day of Early Access, members may participate in a curator-led gallery tour followed by a free Planetarium show. Members with children in their group can experience hands-on learning with the gallery activity cart; each day’s theme will be an extension of the day’s gallery tour. The tour and Planetarium show will be different each day; members will receive an email with complete details. To become a member, visit nj.gov/state/museum/support-membership.shtml.

For more information, visit statemuseum.nj.gov.