Open or closed? Local museums welcome back visitors as COVID-19 restrictions lift slowly

As we emerge from a period of statewide closures mandated by Gov. Tim Walz’s executive order in November, some local museums are beginning to reopen.

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Emily Urfer

The Minneapolis Institute of Art on Monday, Dec. 7. The MIA will be reopening to the public on January 28.

Frankie Carlson, Arts and Entertainment Reporter

While some museums are making plans to accept visitors as COVID-19 closures and restrictions begin to lift, others have yet to make plans for reopening. Here is a list of local museums and their current status as we move further into 2021.

The Bakken Museum: Open

The Bakken Museum reopened its doors to the public on January 12. The museum is open Tuesday through Sunday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., with admission requiring a reserved arrival time and a set capacity of 30 guests per hour.

During the period of closure in the spring of 2020, the museum began development on a new program called the “Bakken Museum clubhouse,” a program focused on tutoring and assisting students experiencing the difficulties of social distance learning.

“We’re excited to welcome visitors back to The Bakken Museum with careful health and safety measures in place,” said Joe Imholte, the Bakken Museum’s Vice President of Programs and Operations. “STEM literacy has, perhaps, never mattered as much as it does now. As a museum focused on innovation and inspiration we invite guests to explore STEM concepts and ask questions in a fun and welcoming environment.”

The Bell Museum: Closed

The Bell Museum, located on the University of Minnesota’s St. Paul campus has set no specific dates, but hopes to reopen to the public sometime in early March, according to their website.

Minneapolis Institute of Art: Opens January 28

MIA will be welcoming back visitors on Thursday of next week. The staff is taking time to ensure a safe opening. The institute is enforcing masks and social distancing, and asking visitors to book tickets ahead of time on its website. The museum is admitting 150 visitors at a time, and will be unable to accept walk-ups.

The institute’s Chief Engagement Officer Kristin Prestegaard discussed some of the virtual gallery events being offered currently. “We really are excited that we’ve built up a lot of virtual and digital programming, like all museums have,” she said. “The beauty is that we’re open for those who feel comfortable, but we still have robust offerings for the majority of people who will experience MIA virtually.”

Minnesota African American Heritage Museum & Gallery: Open

The doors are open, and the new exhibit “Art is My Weapon” by Nikki McComb is on display now at the Minnesota African American Heritage Museum. The museum asks visitors to sign in and have their temperature taken before entry, and only a certain number of guests are permitted to enter at one given time. Social distancing practices are mandatory as visitors move throughout the exhibits. Visitors can register online at the museum website.

Co-founder and Operations Coordinator Coventry Cowens says she hopes the museum can continue to safely bring intriguing and provocative historical exhibits to the public.

“We are open now and will continue to use the COVID-19 procedures implemented. Many of our visitors are senior citizens and we want them to feel comfortable in the Museum,” Cowens said.

The Museum of Russian Art: Open

The Museum of Russian art is open to the public with no reservation required. The museum is open 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. on weekdays, 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. on Saturday and 1 p.m. – 5 p.m. on Sundays. The museum offers a special time slot Tuesdays and Thursdays, opening one hour early specifically for essential workers and the immunocompromised. Currently, museum capacity is set at 60 people.

Weisman Art Museum: Closed

Located on the University of Minnesota campus, the Weisman Art Museum has yet to make plans for reopening.

The Walker Arts Center: Closed

The Walker Arts galleries and shop will continue to remain closed to the public with no date set for reopening.