Museum Openings

Museum Openings

After almost one-third of the year spent imprisoned in our homes because of the Corona virus, America is opening and even the cautious are contemplating moving out of their imposed quarantine back toward a semblance of normal. While the local excursions to the outdoors has been a respite from the 24/7 stay-at-home edict, campgrounds, state and national parks have taken off the closed signs and museums and cultural venues are beginning to follow suit.

When its time to experience a little more culture, museums offer a level of protection in the COVID – 19 times that can ease the worry. The Smithsonian remains closed, with no announced opening yet, instead offering visitors access to digital programming, web-based exhibitions and webinars. Opening the doors for on-site visitation, however, varies based on the state and city that museums are located in. The Chicago Field Museum, for example, has announced an opening date of July 24. Some museums in Texas opened in June, and that was followed by museums in other states as well. Before making the trip to a museum, be sure to check their website for up-to-date information on the status of their opening.

Generally, most if not all museums have chosen to follow guidelines established by the state, the federal government and the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). This includes encouraging visitors to take their own precautions to avoid exposure to someone who might be contagious. Frequent handwashing is always a good preventative measure, no matter the virus. Staying in place when you are feeling ill or running a fever is common sense in this virus-impacted reality.

State organizations are also helping to minimize exposure by coming up with guidelines for restaurants and attractions, among other tourist-centered businesses.

One example is found in the Hoosier State. As Indiana opened in phases, museums and other cultural attractions fell into category 4, one of the last phases of the state’s COVID-19 plan, opening June 12. In that, the Indiana Tourism Association created the Hoosier Hospitality Promise, which serves as a guideline for both guests and staff at the state’s tourism hot spots. Several museums in this state are displaying the Hoosier Hospitality Promise to visitors to the museum grounds.

Here are some of the procedures visitors and guests to museums may expect to see:

  • Reduced number of guests admitted to museum and attractions. This can range from 25 percent of capacity to 75 percent, depending on state and federal mandates.
  • Hand sanitizer or hand washing stations readily available. This is especially important in places where contact may be maximized, such as when money is exchanged, at guest registrations and at entrances and exits.
  • Social distancing encouraged in gathering areas and common spaces. To achieve this, museums are eliminating seating or restricting seating based on the six feet perimeter rule. All indoor and outdoor seating will be 6-feet apart.
  • Promote physical distancing/barriers between employees and visitors. Some places have opted for plastic screens at cashier or information kiosks. Others have decided to require face masks for visitors, staff and volunteers.
  • Restrooms, dining rooms, and common areas will be cleaned and sanitized regularly. This includes structures within museums which have contact with the public, such as stair railings, elevator buttons, door handles, and frequently touched surfaces of any kind.

Staff members at most museums are also required to adhere to new policies that serve to protect other employees and volunteers, and the general public. Health checks, including body temperature readings prior to shift are required as well as face coverings and other personal protective equipment.

While these new policies and procedures may be inconvenient, the goal is to keep visitors and those employed in the hospitality industry safe and businesses operating as safely as possible.

Touring a museum, historic home or tourist attraction can add variety to your RV travel itinerary, creating memories and enhancing learning opportunities. While venturing into a closed space instead of the Great Outdoors may be a tad worrisome, common sense and cooperation goes a long way towards keeping everyone safe and healthy.

Don that mask if required, wash those hands frequently and stay 6 feet away from non-family members. In return you’ll be able to add exposure to art, history and culture to your RV lifestyle and enjoy first-hand this nation’s treasures.

Jul 13th 2020 Lois Tomaszewski

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