You won’t be able to use the drinking fountains, check your coat or eat in the cafe. You will have to wear a mask, submit to a temperature check and agree to leave if you show signs of illness. These are the requirements set by the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, when it reopens on Saturday, the first major arts institution in the country to welcome the public back since the outbreak of the pandemic.
“We’re getting as many as 90 to 100 calls a day — ‘When are you opening? I want to see my favorite works of art’,” Gary Tinterow, the museum’s director, said. “That’s our mission, that’s why we exist: to facilitate those encounters between works of art and individuals. And I fully believe that we can create as safe an environment as possible.”
As several states begin to reopen, their museums are carefully doing the same, with new policies and protocols in place: The San Antonio Museum of Art on May 28; the Boca Raton Museum of Art on June 3; the Wichita Art Museum on June 23; the Cleveland Museum of Art around June 30.
Their plans have been devised in consultation with state officials as well as in conversation with other museums. The Association of Art Museum Directors has helped connect institutions that have shared documents on reopening plans. Museums have broken out into working groups by region to strategize.