The start of summer education courses marked the start of a phased reopening for the Stuhr Museum in Grand Island.
The courses began on Monday and were part of the first phase of a three-part plan to reopen the museum’s doors to the public.
The museum will officially reopen to members on June 15 and to the public on June 22.
“We are thrilled to be able to reopen to the public,” said Stuhr Museum Executive Director Chris Hochstetler.
As the museum reopens to the public, patrons familiar with the exhibits at Stuhr and Railroad Town will notice a couple changes to the normal procedures.
“There will be a briefing at the gate,” Hochstetler said. “We hope that people will practice the Nebraska values of taking care of each other by wearing masks and social distancing.”
Hochstetler said the biggest concern of Stuhr Museum will be masks.
“We have done a lot of research,” Hochstetler said. “Museums around the country are having success, but people have to wear masks. Masks limit the opportunity for asymptomatic carriers of the disease to give it to someone else.”
Hochstetler said museum staff will also be wearing masks.
“We have worked closely with the Central District Health Department to ensure our protocols will comply with directed health measures,” Hochstetler said. “Our custodial staff will wipe down all hard surfaces every few hours.”
Plans for reopening also include changes to the food offerings of the Silver Dollar.
“For much of the summer, people will be able to get prepackaged food,” Hochstetler said. “They will still be able to get the period correct soda pop and snacks, but it will be prepackaged.”
In addition to the changes at the Silver Dollar, access to different buildings will be controlled to ensure that enough space remains to properly socially distance.
Hochstetler said an example of controlled access will be notable at the museum gift shop.
“It is a confined space,” Hochstetler said. “Normally, four to six people can fit in it at a time. During his time, we will have to limit it to one to two people.”
However, outside the buildings, the museum will not have much of an issue ensuring social distancing.
“That is the beauty of 206 acres,” Hochstetler said. “There is a lot of space here where people can socially distance. There are even points where you could maybe have a whole acre between people.”
Hochstetler said signs will be posted throughout the buildings and grounds to remind museum-goers to socially distance.
Hochstetler said patrons and staff will be asked to wash hands frequently.
“There will be hand-washing stations available around the grounds,” Hochstetler said.
Hochstetler added the museum will ask patrons to refrain from touching exhibits and surfaces while inside the Stuhr Museum building.
Hochstetler said the museum hopes to fully return to precoronavirus procedures on Labor Day as long as a resurgence of COVID-19 does not occur. The museum’s resources will also determine the speed at which a return to precoronavirus protocol will be completed.
“We have not been able to be open,” Hochstetler said. “That has limited our resources and we want to be sure we do not stretch ourselves too thin.”
Hochstetler said, given the early access afforded museum members, he wanted to encourage people to become members at Stuhr Museum.
“Right now is the best time to become a member,” Hochstetler said. “We are currently offering 15 months of membership for the price of 12 months and that will get them access on June 15.”
Information regarding the phased reopening, memberships and other activities offered by Stuhr Museum can be found at stuhrmuseum.org.