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The Milwaukee Museum of Art.

Amid Rising Infections, Some US Museums Begin to Reopen

As Covid-19 infection rates climb across the United States following a late-spring letup, some museums are starting to welcome visitors again after months of lockdown. Institutions that are opening their doors include the Milwaukee Art Museum; the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; the Portland Art Museum; and the Berkshires Museums. Buoyed by a substantial $6.7 million government loan, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art is also planning on reopening sometime this month, its full staff intact. While some governors move their states into “Phase 3” of reopening, others, like Greg Abbott of Texas, have paused or even rolled back their plans in the face of rising coronavirus cases.

Strategies for instituting social distancing vary between institutions, but most involve face coverings, keeping safe distances between patrons, restricting gallery capacities, limited hours, and timed entry. In order to avoid overcrowding, museums are rethinking their foot traffic patterns with one-way systems. The Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art, the Norman Rockwell Museum, and the Clark Art Institute, which together constitute the Berkshires Museums, plan to institute contact tracing based on information provided by ticket purchasers. Boston’s Isabella Stuart Gardner Museum and the Portland Art Museum will celebrate their reopening with free entry for all visitors, provided they reserve in advance. New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art is still on track to reopen by the end of August, and the Louvre reopened yesterday following a four-month closure.

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