Ohio Museums Develop Guidelines for Re-Opening
Ohio’s major museums and the nonprofit arts advocacy group Ohio Citizens for the Arts recently delivered to the office of Governor Mike DeWine a set of guidelines for re-opening their doors to the public after the COVID crisis lockdown. The group’s recommendations will inform the Governor’s office as they issue official guidelines for museums. Currently, museums are among the businesses ordered to remain closed. However, Ohio Citizens for the Arts executive director Angela Meleca says the Governor’s office could issue guidelines and allow museums to re-open as early as May 29. The Cleveland Museum of Art recently announced it is planning to re-open June 30.
As they look after guests, the strategies recommended as mandatory include limited capacity according to square footage of space, and timed ticketing. The Cleveland Museum, for example, still would remain free, but visitors would have to get tickets to enter at a specific time. The museum group also recommended as mandatory an aggressive cleaning protocol, and the continued closure of cafes until they can meet the same guidelines as restaurants.
Strategies not to be “mandatory,” but nonetheless recommended include temperature checks upon entry, wearing of masks, one-way traffic patterns, and special hours for vulnerable populations.
Recomended mandatory measures for employees include reduced density (having fewer staffers present at any given time), temperature checks prior to each time they enter, face coverings for anyone who interacts with the public, actively encouraging any sick employees to stay home, and of course frequent cleaning and disinfecting all commonly touched surfaces.
Meleca says the group decided that it should be just a recommendation to ask that visitors wear masks, because administrators were concerned about the danger to staff after reports of violence when workers at convenience stores attempted to enforce a mask requirement.
“Early on we recognized theaters are different from museums, and big venues are different from small venues,” Meleca said. Museums will have a much easier challenge in re-opening than performing arts institutions, which depend on gathering crowds of people, seated close together in rows. For example, museum guidelines call for allowing one patron entry for every 113 square feet of space. That’s about the size of a bedroom in most older homes.
Museums that participated in the discussions include the Cleveland Museum of Art, Toledo Museum of Art, Akron Art Museum, moCa Cleveland, the Allen Memorial Art Museum in Oberlin, Dayton Art Institute, Columbus Museum of Art, Cincinnati Art Museum, Taft Museum, the Contemporary Arts Center in Cincinnati, the Wexner Center in Columbus, and the Canton Museum of Art.
Meleca says it was important and helpful that the museum directors wanted a uniform and united approach. “We recognized that people will travel within a region and in the state. So if you go to the Cincinnati Museum or the Dayton Art Institute, or the Canton Museum, they were mindful to have consistent expectations for the guests.”
The OCA museum group’s guidelines, in Summary: