State museums of art and history appear to be an easy bet for a swift reopening as the COVID-19 crisis eases. Exhibits are generally non-contact, there aren’t usually large crowds in one spot, and it’s not exactly a ball game where fans are screaming and kicking five feet apart.
But there are other factors that may cause Connecticut museums to delay beyond the state government’s scheduled start of phase two on June 20, which includes interior museum spaces – staffing and training, plans. academics, renovations and summer downtime at various museums.
Waterbury’s Mattatuck Museum presented the most detailed plan for the reopening on June 22 (if the governor confirms the plan) – including a roadmap for other museums to consider.
Director Bob Burns echoed what other museum officials have said about the tentative reopening date: “We will also determine in advance whether we feel fully prepared to open on that date. We can decide to delay a week or two; it will all depend on what is happening in Waterbury, CT, on site and with our staff.
Mattatuck’s tight plan is influenced by the fact that the museum’s main site at 144 W. Main St. (on Waterbury Green) is closed for an $ 8 million renovation of the building, a former Masonic temple where the Mattatuck Museum has moved in 1987. The location at Rose Hill, a historic home on Prospect Street up the hill from the main west site, requires precise security protocols during this year of the pandemic.
Burns said that while the home’s location is larger than his own home, it is significantly smaller than West Main Street, with limited exhibition space on the mansion’s first floor. “The hallways are very narrow and there are a few dead ends. “
He said his primary concern was the health and safety of staff. “Those who are able will continue to work from home in the short term (some members of the conservation, development and administrative staff). Those who enter will receive hand sanitizer, vinyl gloves and a cloth mask. … We will practice social distancing, stagger arrival / departure times and lunch times. We will continue to run all meetings through Zoom, even if all participants are in the building. “
For visitors, the plan is up to 10 people (wearing masks) to reserve and prepay admission at an entry time. “The names and contact details (cell or email) of each participant in the group should also be provided at this time for the contact log. They will be asked to leave all personal items locked in their car (s). “
Other conditions: maximum 45 minutes for the group on the first floor of the museum. Entrance will be via the access ramp and departure will be via the door leading to the parking lot. There is a toilet on the first floor, which will be cleaned by maintenance staff after each use. After a group leaves, all spaces and surfaces will be disinfected before a new group enters 15 minutes later.
Burns said it is a “living” plan that will change over time and as needed.
On May 29, the Executive Director of the New Haven Museum, Margaret Anne Tockarshewsky, said in response to questions: “We are watching Phase 1 unfold in the state and will see what we can learn from our colleagues in cultural institutions. outside. We are delighted that the governor has included all museums in phase 2 and proposed June 20 as the approximate opening date. “
But Tockarshewsky said the Whitney Avenue museum will not reopen to the public on June 20. Instead, “it gives us a date to work on to return to our offices.” It is important that staff feel safe in their working environment as they relearn how to navigate the shared spaces of our museum building. Then we can work on the protocols necessary to ensure the safety and well-being of our visitors in accordance with CDC and state guidelines. “
The New Haven Museum has another situation that makes its reopening on Whitney Avenue less date sensitive. Its summer programming moves to the historic Pardee-Morris House in the Morris Cove section of New Haven.
“With nearly an acre, large lawns and a small herb garden, we have a wonderful outdoor location to open up and offer visitors first. Our educational staff are exploring summer programming and we hope to welcome the public back to Pardee-Morris House in July, if it is safe to do so.
In Hartford, Michael Dudich, deputy director of the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art, said via email: “We plan to reopen the museum proper later this summer.” Amid the restrictions of the first phase, Dudich said the museum had embraced outdoor art, “launching a community-centric initiative called ‘Sculpture in the City,’ inviting visitors to experience great art and l “architecture in Hartford, on the museum grounds and beyond. Direct viewing at Wadsworth combines with online digital resources that showcase our collection as well as information from our partner organizations.”
Yale’s top two art galleries had not committed to reopening later this month, saying it was up to Yale, the city and state officials.
Heather Nolin of the Yale University Art Gallery said the gallery will follow the university’s restart plans, “which are based on the state’s CT guidelines for college campuses, not museums.”
Gallery director Stephanie Wiles echoed this and said: “At the moment we are unable to give you a specific date, but we will ensure that when we are cleared to welcome the public again in the art gallery in person, we will notify our audience promptly. . “
Nolin said the way forward should be clearer by July 10, when President Peter Salovey releases his decision on returning students to campus in the fall.
The Yale Center of British Art responded by saying, “As we plan our reopening, we continue to plan for future exhibitions and programs, as well as to develop protocols and procedures, including remediation and distancing measures. social, so that the center can safely welcome staff and visitors. At the moment, we have a dynamic program of activities, events and exhibitions available on our website.
Wiles also referred the audience to the online offerings at artgallery.yale.edu and to signing up for the weekly newsletter.