Virginia museums begin to reopen after coronavirus shutdowns - InfoNews

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Virginia museums begin to reopen after coronavirus shutdowns

June 14, 2020 - 3:38 PM

BLACKSBURG, Va. - Museums in Virginia have started reopening after being shuttered for three months because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Phase 2 of Gov. Ralph Northam's reopening plan began on June 5, allowing museums to reopen with restrictions, including the wearing of face masks inside buildings.

The Roanoke Times reports that guides at Historic Smithfield, a re-creation of 18th-century frontier life in Appalachia, added face masks to their Colonial outfits of petticoats and caps for the reopening on Saturday.

“We’re just really excited to have people out again,” Executive Director Ryan Spencer said.

Blacksburg Museum & Cultural Foundation also reopened its Alexander Black House museum and art gallery Wednesday with social distancing measures in place

But not all cultural attractions appear ready for visitors. According to their websites, both Roanoke’s Taubman Museum of Art and Harrison Museum of African American Culture remain closed.

Spencer said volunteers and staff have been preparing for visitors with training, not just in historical interpretation but how to sanitize surfaces, deep clean bathrooms and encourage visitors to comply with social distancing.

The closure this spring has caused the private, non-profit historic site to lose a significant share of its income.

“The majority of people assume that museums don’t need assistance,” Spencer said. “They think we’re supported by state and federal government, but most museums are private.”

The Virginia Museum of Transportation reopened Thursday, but has had to change some of its offerings, Director Don Moser said. Under the governor’s guidelines, hands-on exhibits are prohibited to reduce the risk of coronavirus transmission.

The museum will be open five days a week initially, instead of the normal seven days.

Spencer said it will take a lot of community support for museums to rebuild their finances.

“We want to remind people that museums help give perspective,” he said, “and it’s a place that contributes to the overall health of the community.”

News from © The Associated Press, 2020
The Associated Press

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