Museums Prepare To Reopen

By Cece Nunn, posted Sep 2, 2020
Cape Fear Museum is scheduled to reopen to the public at 9 a.m. Sept. 8. (Photo by Cece Nunn)
Local museums are preparing to reopen after Gov. Roy Cooper's announcement Tuesday that some coronavirus-related restrictions will be eased this week.

Phase 2.5 of the state's reopening plan allows museums, aquariums and other facilities to welcome patrons back at reduced capacities, taking effect at 5 p.m. Friday. Those capacities are 50% for museums and aquariums and 30% for gyms and similar businesses.

"We are so happy," said Heather Wilson, deputy director of Cameron Art Museum at 3201 S. 17th St., on Wednesday. "It's everything right now to be able to open. It's what we're here to do. We want to connect with the community; we want to be able to be relevant to the community. 

"This is also going to be a great relief for us financially to be able to be open."

The museum was losing $50,000 each month it was closed, and it's been more than five months since that closure. CAM, along with other local museums, feared permanent closure as a result of ongoing losses, and museum officials around town were campaigning to be able to reopen.

The public reopening of Cameron Art Museum takes place 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sept. 12, according to a news release. 

The public reopening of museum restaurant CAM Café, which has a new chef, takes place Sept. 15. 

Cape Fear Museum is expected to reopen at 9 a.m. Tuesday, the day after Labor Day. Its hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday and 1 to 5 p.m. Sunday through Memorial Day.

"Consistent with state and local recommendations, we're going to open with some modified operations and elevated safety procedures, so we will have routine cleaning and disinfection throughout the day and hand sanitizer stations," said Barbi Baker, marketing specialist with Cape Fear Museum. 

Some of the museum's exhibits have been modified, and sanitizing wipes will be provided to visitors to allow them to wipe down the museum's interactive, touch exhibits, Baker said.

She said, "As a department of New Hanover County, we are eager to reopen to be able to serve the community again."

Other local museums, and the N.C. Aquarium at Fort Fisher, could be making reopening announcements soon. Officials at the aquarium said Wednesday that the details are being worked out.

The following is an expanded list of what Phase 2.5 means for businesses and other facilities:

  • Mass gathering limits will increase to 25 people indoors and 50 people outdoors from the current limit of 10 indoors and 25 outdoors. 
  • Playgrounds may open. 
  • Museums and aquariums may open at 50% capacity. 
  • Gyms and indoor exercise facilities, such as yoga studios, martial arts and rock climbing, as well as skating rinks, bowling alleys, indoor basketball, volleyball, etc., may open at 30% capacity. 
  • Bars, nightclubs, movie theaters, indoor entertainment facilities, amusement parks and dance halls will remain closed. 
  • Large venues remain subject to the mass gathering limits. 
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