Preparing for closures or re-closures
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As the pandemic spreads into the long term, some museums are considering reclosure due to increased outbreaks. If your museum needs to re-close or even extend closure, leaders should be prepared to take the following steps:
Develop comprehensive communications plans to inform the public about the closure
It is important that your visitors/potential visitors are informed about upcoming closures and directed to what is available online. You should not be concerned with overcommunicating since things are constantly changing right now, but having a plan in writing will help the museum pivot to closure and reopening as needed. Read the Arizona Science Center’s statement on reclosing.
Ensure that collections are in stable condition to withstand being left alone for days
If your museum’s plans include extended quarantine, you should develop sheltering in place plans for the collections to ensure they remain in stable condition. National Heritage Responders’ Sheltering Collections in Place guide is a short list of things museums and other heritage sites can do to protect collections prior to and during closing.
If possible, try to have at least one individual assigned to checking the museum occasionally—in whatever timeframe will work for your collections and/or site—to make sure that the environmental controls are in tact and procedures are working smoothly to ensure limited fluctuations in temperature and humidity.
Develop digital content/programming plans
Many museums started developing enhanced digital programming when the virus took a turn in the spring. With the turn to more online programming, make sure you have a plan in place to keep your visitors engaged with the museum’s content. McKinsey Digital developed a comprehensive guide to creating a content strategy during times of crisis.
Encourage remote work
Most museums have projects that are put on the backburner indefinitely because they are a lower priority but which could potentially be completed remotely.
With enhanced remote work capabilities, now is the time to think outside of the box! Here is a short list of potential tasks that can be done remotely (some require prep work):
- take photos of collections shelves/rooms and conduct an inventory
- transcribe scans or audio files
- conduct research for future exhibitions or web content
- catalog objects or cleanup metadata
- write/revise policies and procedures
- reorganize digital files
- write grant proposals
- create/conduct online educational programming
- update webpages
- create social media posts about objects/archives
- scan, organize, label, transcribe past exhibit content
- write an article or blog post for a professional association (click here to submit something for the Alliance blog)
- create a departmental “handbook”
- create a notebook of forms and guidelines
- The Alliance blog shares Earth Day during COVID-19: Green Tips for Closed Museums which includes a list of ways to revisit operational assumptions about museums’ carbon implications.
- The Center for the Future of Museums shares Digital Tools for Pandemic Times on the blog.
- If it comes to the point that the museum leadership decides it’s time to close permanently, the Alliance has compiled resources to help (available to Alliance members).