On March 13 museums across Washington had closed their doors due to the rise of COVID-19. However, as of Sept. 25, they were permitted to slowly reopen. While Governor Inslee provided reopening guidelines to serve as a mandatory baseline for museum operations, each institution has taken the liberty to define what ‘operating safely’ means to them. For those looking cautiously for activities to do under quarantine, here is some information to consider.

Limited Hours

While our county navigates through the hardships of reopening during a pandemic, many museums have decided to limit their hours of admission. The Tacoma Art Museum, Museum of Glass and LeMay America’s Car Museum share the same restricted hours of Friday through Sunday 10 a.m.–5 p.m. While the Washington State History Museum is open to the public Tuesday through Sunday, 10 a.m.–5 p.m. For the WSHM, Tuesday’s entries are reserved for guests 65 and older until noon and half-price admission for all WSHM guests until Oct. 23.

Limited Entry

The state mandate requires no more than 25 percent capacity in museums during Phase 2. The TAM provides a more concrete number stating they will allow admission of 50 individuals at a time, with their museum store limited to five people at a time. The Museum of Glass will implement entry staggering when necessary to manage group flow and capacity.

Closed Amenities

To minimize high-risk areas and ensure financial stability, many museums are limiting the amenities that are available on-site. For TAM, their Art Studio, cafe and gallery interactives will be unavailable for the time being, as well as their lockers and coat check. The Education Studio is currently shut down at the MOG, however take-away education activities will be provided on site. The Washington State History Museum will have its Research Center and facility rentals closed down temporarily, as well as their fifth floor while they install new exhibits. No events are allowed at any site under Phase 2.

Distancing and Sanitizing Efforts

Throughout COVID, we heard the mantras “wash your hands” and “keep distance” to flatten the curve. With the current social focus on cleanliness and distancing the majority of museums have taken the initiative to implement several hand sanitizing stations and suggested route markers throughout their locations. LeMay and the WSHM take this one step further by providing one-way exhibit paths as well. 

LeMay will also enforce social distancing through monitors. To limit touch-based interaction, the WSHM highly encourages its visitors to purchase their tickets online. Those who wish to purchase admission on site must use a debit or credit card, as cash will not be accepted. MOG will provide seat closure markings for their Theatre and Hot Shop to ensure physical distancing.

Current Exhibits

Washington State History Museum will open their Great Wall of Washington History exhibit on the third floor with the addition of a pop-up exhibition, “The Northwest Collage Society’s Suffrage Celebration Show.” The fifth floor will reopen on Oct. 25 and WSHM will resume regular admission prices. 

The Tacoma Art Museum will have eleven different exhibits on display including “Animals: Wild and Captured in Bronze,” “Mary Van Cline: Selections from the Domenta Project,” “Metaphor into Form: Art in the Era of the Pilchuck Glass School,” “Winter in the West” and “Native Portraiture: Power and Perception.” 

LeMay will be featuring “Saleen: A Journey from the Heart of a Racer to America’s Supercar” alongside its large collection and exhibits of noteworthy automobiles. 

The Museum of Glass has five exhibits currently on view, “Richard Marquis: Keepers,” “Transparency: An LGBTQ+ Glass Art Exhibition,” “Spotlight on Dale Chihuly,” “Alchemy 5: Transformation in Contemporary Enamels” and “Out of the Vault: Hidden Gems from the Museum of Glass Permanent Collection.” The latter two exhibits will be removed after Oct. 18.

To find more about the Phase 2 Museum Reopening Guidelines, visit the Washington governor’s Website at https://bit.ly/34qZSki. WSHM is collecting COVID-19 documentation and stories, visit https://bit.ly/3lfZHiO to learn more information on how to contribute.

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