State mu­se­ums, his­toric sites re­open doors to vis­i­tors

Op­er­a­tions re­sume to­day at 25% ca­pac­ity

Santa Fe New Mexican - - FRONT PAGE - By Michael Abatemarco ma­betemarco@sfnewmex­i­

Eight state mu­se­ums and seven his­toric sites are ex­pected to re­open Thurs­day.

The fa­cil­i­ties — which in­clude the New Mex­ico Mu­seum of Art, the New Mex­ico His­tory Mu­seum/Palace of the Gov­er­nors, the Mu­seum of In­dian Arts & Cul­ture and the Mu­seum of In­ter­na­tional Folk Art in Santa Fe — were closed to the pub­lic March 16 be­cause of the coro­n­avirus pan­demic.

The state’s cur­rent pub­lic health or­der per­mits them to re­sume op­er­a­tions at 25 per­cent ca­pac­ity.

“It’s been an un­usual cir­cum­stance, that’s for sure,” said Mark White, ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of the Mu­seum of Art. “But we’re very ex­cited to be able to open the build­ing to the pub­lic. The sit­u­a­tion isn’t go­ing to change for the ma­jor­ity of staff, how­ever. We’ll con­tinue to tele­work for the fore­see­able fu­ture.”

The Mu­seum of Art was closed to 16 mem­bers of its staff with the ex­cep­tion of se­cu­rity, who have been main­tain­ing the fa­cil­ity, said White, who has been work­ing with the Depart­ment of Cul­tural Af­fairs on a re­open­ing plan since July.

“We have a num­ber of ex­hi­bi­tions that we opened in the spring that re­ally didn’t get their due be­cause we were forced to close,” he said.

One of those ex­hibits is The birth, death and res­ur­rec­tion of Christ: from Michelan­gelo to Tiepolo, a trav­el­ing show from the Bri­tish Mu­seum in Lon­don. Vis­i­tors will have four more days to view the ex­hi­bi­tion, which runs through Sun­day.

The re­open­ing of state mu­se­ums and mon­u­ments fol­lows Gov. Michelle Lu­jan Gr­isham’s Aug. 27 eas­ing of re­stric­tions on fa­cil­i­ties with static dis­plays.

But they must main­tain COVID-19-safe op­er­at­ing pro­ce­dures. Face cov­er­ings are re­quired for all vis­i­tors.

Some ar­eas, in­clud­ing the­aters, class­rooms, li­braries, col­lec­tions stor­age and pic­nic or snack ar­eas, will re­main closed or have lim­ited ac­cess. Rental equip­ment, such as head­sets, as well as coat checks, lock­ers and other stor­age for per­sonal items are not al­lowed, ex­cept when re­quired for com­pli­ance with the Amer­i­cans with Dis­abil­i­ties Act.

The Mu­seum of In­ter­na­tional Folk Art looped all con­tent on its iPad de­vices so vis­i­tors won’t have to start and stop them man­u­ally, and it re­moved all of its in­ter­ac­tive dis­plays to pre­vent con­tam­i­na­tion.

“We can’t wait to in­stall those again be­cause in­ter­ac­tives are some of our fa­vorite things,” said Khris­taan Vil­lela, ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of the mu­seum. “We have high hopes that we’ll

be able to get up to full speed again with all of our con­tent be­fore too long.”

All mu­se­ums and his­toric sites will op­er­ate on a mod­i­fied 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. sched­ule to al­low ad­di­tional time for clean­ing and san­i­tiz­ing. A 10 a.m.-to-noon slot on Wed­nes­days is re­served for higher-risk pop­u­la­tions. Group vis­its, pub­lic pro­grams and spe­cial events are re­stricted to vir­tual for­mats only.

The pub­lic is en­cour­aged to visit each fa­cil­ity’s web­site or call to con­firm days and hours of op­er­a­tion, but ad­vance and timed tick­et­ing op­tions are not an op­tion, even for the Santa Fe mu­se­ums.

“Even at 25 per­cent ca­pac­ity, given our usual hourly at­ten­dance, we should be able to wel­come any­one who comes to the door,” White said. “That is some­thing that the Depart­ment of Cul­tural Af­fairs is still work­ing on and, hope­fully, will be avail­able in all our mu­se­ums fairly soon.”

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