Whether you’ve spent months staring longingly at the Met from the sidewalks of Fifth Avenue or resorted to hitting refresh on the British Museum’s virtual exhibits, there’s good news for culture-lovers around the world: museums are reopening.
Here’s what you need to know to stay safe if you’re planning to visit a museum soon, as well as some of the specific safety protocols well-known museums around the world have implemented.
What to know about safety as museums reopen
Whether you’re returning to a local favorite or visiting a new museum along a road trip route, you can expect new health and safety protocols for your visit. Among the most common new requirements? Advanced tickets or timed reservations, face coverings, and contactless payments.
Here’s a closer look are some of safety measures you can expect to find at museums reopening around the world:
- Mask or face covering requirements: Like many establishments, museums will require the wearing of masks or face coverings inside (and sometimes around) the premises. Some museums, like the Detroit Institute of Art, are selling art-inspired masks you can take home as a souvenir.
- Temperature checks: Some museums will check guests temperatures via contactless thermometers before they’re allowed entry.
- Pre-booked and/or ticketed entry: In an effort to limit the number of people visiting at any one time, many museums have instituted pre-booked and/or timed entry only. This will allow museums to keep track of the number of visitors inside (and ensure the appropriate space for social distancing), while also maintaining a regular flow of guests throughout the day.
- Guided flow and wayfinding signage: To reduce exposure and promote social distancing, museums have implemented new procedures for exploring museum exhibits. Expect one-directional stairwells, entryways, and exits, as well as restricted elevator use and limited access to certain exhibits. Visitors should follow any signage indicating new routes through the museum.
- Contactless payments: In an effort to reduce any exposure to COVID-19, expect many museums to implement cashless payment methods. This could impact your payment options for entry fees, refreshments, and/or gifts.
Where museums are reopening
Louvre Museum, Paris
The Louvre has reopened to visitors with a requirement for mask-wearing both inside the museum as well as while exploring the gardens and grounds. All visitors are also required to book a time slot ahead of time, even for those who have free entry.
If you plan to visit the Mona Lisa, be aware that visitor flow will be one-directional (entering and exiting through separate doors). Signs have also been placed around the museum to guide visitors, avoid overcrowding, and encourage social distancing.
Tip: Remember to forward your museum reservations to TripIt. That way, you can keep track of your timed entries, get walking directions from your hotel with Map View, find a place to grab a bite to eat or drink with Nearby Places, and more.
Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York City
After more than five months of closure, The Met reopened its doors to the public in late August. New protocols include temperature checks, mask requirements, timed ticket reservations, and one-way entryways and exits. Some amenities, such as coat check, are currently closed; others, like food and beverage service, are available in select locations.
Printed maps are temporarily unavailable at the museum, but a downloadable version is available to help you plan your visit ahead of time. A list of brand new exhibits, as well as a complete overview of new safety protocols, are available in this visitor toolkit.
Institute of Contemporary Art, Miami
Institute of Contemporary Art (ICA) Miami is the first art museum in the city to reopen following the county-wide closure of all cultural venues in March. ICA reopens with its usual free admission, but also with restrictions on attendance. Visitors will be kept to a one-hour limit and must reserve timed tickets in advance.
In addition to time restrictions, visitors are required to wear face coverings, follow wayfinding signage throughout the museum (to reduce exposure), and adhere to social distancing protocol.
Pergamon Museum, Berlin
Like many museums, the Pergamon Museum in Berlin has restricted reopening to select exhibits only. Luckily, the popular Das Panorama, or The Panorama, has reopened to visitors; individual tickets are available specifically for entrance to the special exhibition venue. You can purchase your time slot online or at the ticket counter in the museum (when available).
Visitors must follow a designated course through all exhibition spaces and should avoid forming groups inside the buildings. Those guests purchasing tickets on-site and/or gifts in a museum shop are requested to use non-cash payment methods.
For a full list of open museums and exhibits in the Staatliche Museen zu Berlin network, visit the museum website.
British Museum, London
History buffs rejoice! The British Museum has reopened, albeit with a few changes to promote the safety of guests. All visitors, including museum members, need to book a timed slot in advance. Face coverings are required in all areas of the museum. Visitors will also notice that the museum has implemented a new one-way route for exploring exhibits. Short on time? The museum has curated a One hour at the Museum trail to aid visitors in seeing the highlights, including the unmissable Rosetta Stone.
Uffizi Galleries, Florence
Home to the art collection of one of Italy’s most famous families, the de Medicis, Uffizi Galleries have reopened their art exhibits to the public. Visitors are required to wear a mask while in the museum and keep the recommended social distance of 1.8 meters (~six feet). Guests will also be temperature-checked before they’re allowed entry.
Art Institute of Chicago
The jewel of the Windy City, the Art Institute of Chicago has reopened to visitors. Advance ticket purchase is required for the public. Members, however, do not need to reserve tickets. Masks are required for the duration of your museum visit. If you’re planning your visit for the chillier months, be aware that amenities such as coat check and valet service are currently unavailable. Some galleries may have limited capacity or be temporarily closed. Likewise, visitors are asked to abide by directional signage, including designated entrances and exits.
State Hermitage, St. Petersburg
The State Hermitage—known for its collection of world art dating as far back as the Stone Age, as well as the Winter Palace, the once-main residence of the czars—has reopened for visitors. Advanced reservations are required. Tickets are valid for a particular time slot (two-hour limit) and for one of the available fixed routes through the museum. All routes are one-way and all visitors must wear personal protection while inside the museum.