The Midtown arts groups work with the public every single day when they’re open, said Christian Greer, president and CEO of the Michigan Science Center.
“We know how to adapt, how to keep things clean, but this has been an extraordinary experience, especially for us as a hands-on museum,” he said.
“Because of that, it requires us to go the extra mile to ensure that (visitors) feel comfortable, that things are sanitized correctly and that it doesn’t impair the learning,” he said.
“If curiosity is somehow … disrupted by COVID-19, we’re missing an opportunity to interact with our public.”
The science center and other cultural groups need to make sure they aren’t missing anything in their safety protocols, Greer said.
Greer provided a few hints about the visitor experience people will have once the center reopens its doors. He’s challenged his team to use the concept of an airport, with plane (or people) arrivals staggered a couple of minutes apart for safe distancing and runways to queue plans and people up for where they’ll go next. Certain exhibits are being moved out to provide more space for runways and social distancing.
The science center is also looking at a “Be a positive” campaign to encourage its young visitors to think of themselves as positively charged particles that by their very scientific nature repel one another, Greer said.
“We want people to still have fun but be conscious of how their spacing affects others.”
The possibility of more pandemics in the future is potentially high as the world gets smaller and the rain forest continues to be disrupted, he said.
“We are interacting with species of animals that humans typically don’t.”
The Detroit Historical Society plans to reopen the museum in mid-July, said Elana Rugh, president and CEO.
“We are still working out the exact details on how to best keep visitors and staff safe at all times, but are so excited to welcome everyone back as soon as we are able to.”
New visitor experiences are likely to include timed entry tickets; a one-way path through the exhibits and a more touchless experience to keep everyone safe, she said.
A July opening will give the museum time to get all of the PPE it has ordered in, including masks, touchless hand sanitation stations, and other items that are on back order, Rugh said.
“We have no idea when they will come. I’d imagine everyone is in the same boat there.”
Reopening is one thing, but continuing to assess procedures will be ongoing, Borucki said. NSF will do a preopening readiness review with the institutions to identify gaps in implementation and ensure each is ready to go.
After they groups have reopened, NSF will come back every month or two “to make sure we are all doing well … and to help us figure out what works and what maybe doesn’t work,” Borucki said.
The protocols or program launched on day one will not be the same two months later as the science or risk changes, Medeiros cautioned. Organizations “can’t rest on their laurels and (think) that what allowed them to open up safely on day one is going to carry them through three months later.”
It will be imperative to keep up with evolving science, regulations and best practices even after reopening, to ensure safety protocols remain effective, Medeiros said.
“The common understanding among scientists and risk-management Ieaders is that there will be a second and third wave because there always has been with global pandemics,” he said.
It will be a tricky time to manage customer-facing organizations, he said, with many people who don’t exhibit symptoms.
“The risk is that organizations develop a false sense of security after they reopen because things settle down … but as soon as they relax their controls, it’s going to be tricky,” Medeiros said.
“You’ve got to keep your foot on the gas. Don’t let up even after you start to think things are OK.”
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