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Social distance markers throughout the museum indicate the flow of traffic.

Credit: Kylie Cooper

After closing its doors to the public for four months, Penn Museum is reopening this week under coronavirus prevention measures. 

The Museum will open to the public on Tuesday after already inviting its members to visit from July 21 to 26. In order to limit the spread of COVID-19, visitors will be required to wear facial coverings and remain six feet away from those who are not in their household groups. Visitors are asked to purchase timed tickets in advance and follow a one-way path through the Museum, according to a July 10 press release

The Museum, which temporarily closed on March 13 due to COVID-19, will undergo increased cleanings when it officially reopens this week. Hand sanitizer and wipe dispenser stations will also be available throughout the Museum. 

The Museum is allowing visitors to enter during three different two-hour blocks each day to spread out Museum-goers as much as possible, Director of Museum Services Edward Reidell said. The half-hour breaks will allow staff to clean the Museum in between the waves of visitors, he added.

Aspects of the Museum experience will be modified to encourage social distancing and prevent physical contact between visitors. Each person will be given a stylus to use interactive touchscreens and will not be allowed to interact with touchable artifacts, according to the press release. The Café will remain closed until state and city guidelines permit indoor dining to return.

Credit: Kylie Cooper

Upon entering the museum, visitors had to answer if they had recently experienced any COVID-19-related symptoms, or been in contact with anyone who had.

“These important safety protocols will be in place for however long it is necessary to ensure the health and well-being of our guests, members, students, and staff,” Penn Museum PR Director Jill DiSanto wrote in an emailed statement to The Daily Pennsylvanian. 

Rising College sophomore Ana Gomez has worked as a marketing and communications intern for the Museum since she arrived to Penn as a first-year, and hopes to continue her role in person this year, although she is unsure if she will be able to do so.

Although some employees have returned to the Museum, Gomez said her manager told her it is unclear whether all employees will be allowed back. 

As the Museum eases into reopening, early visitors expressed satisfaction with its coronavirus safety protocols. Still, there were few museum-goers during the members-only opening period. 

“I think the social distancing measures are awesome here because they have the styluses for the touchscreens, and just like the cleanliness is all good,” Ava Estacio-Touhey, a rising high school senior from New Jersey who visited the Museum on July 21, said. 

The building's reopening guidelines were outlined by a task force created by Penn Museum’s Executive Team in collaboration with the University's leadership and its reopening task force, as well as by guidance from other globally recognized cultural institutions, DiSanto wrote. 

Moving forward, Reidell said Penn Museum will likely continue some of the changes it recently instituted. 

“One of the things that I think that’s going to happen is some of the virtual and digital programming that's been developed because of the closure, I suspect some of that's going to continue on,” Reidell said. “It's great outreach and another way to provide access to the collections of cool things that are in this building.” 

Staff reporter Kylie Cooper contributed reporting.

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