The Getty Center, Los Angeles. Photo: Thad Zajdowicz/Flickr.

Museums Remain Closed as LA Reopens

Museums in Los Angeles remain closed despite the county’s announcement earlier this month that arts institutions would be allowed to reopen as of Friday, June 12. According to the Los Angeles Times, many museums don’t plan on reopening for several more weeks and even months, despite their prolonged closures due to the coronavirus pandemic, and are scrambling to adopt new safety measures, retrain their staffs, and organize programming.

Elizabeth Merritt, vice president of strategic foresight and founding director of the Center for the Future of Museums at the American Alliance of Museums, told the newspaper that institutions face many challenges ahead, including how to engage with and attract audiences to return while implementing strict new procedures for entry such as limiting the number of visitors, requiring them to wear masks and submit to temperature checks, installing social distancing markers, and introducing guidelines on how to navigate museums in order to maintain a one-way flow of traffic.

According to newly issued protocols released by the county’s Department of Public Health, museums, galleries, zoos, and aquariums must abide by the same workplace practices. According to the reopening road map, those who can work remotely should continue to do so, staffing schedules should be staggered, symptom checks need to be implemented, and Plexiglas dividers must be installed to protect front-desk employees. It also advises discontinuing tours, rearranging or removing seating, adding social distancing signage, installing hand sanitization stations, and implementing contactless payment systems and check-in points.

The Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles (LA MoCA), and the Getty Center, which is planning to reopen in phases, said they are still uncertain about their reopening timelines. The Broad said it expects to welcome guests again in midsummer; the Skirball Cultural Center will remain closed through at least the end of June; and the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County does not plan on resuming operations again until at least late summer. A spokesperson for LA MoCA said, “We are very mindfully and deliberately working through all the steps needed to protect our staff and our visitors. We need to take our time doing this, in order to do it right.”