Reopening Museums

June 1, 2020

It's June 1, and in the United States, museums that have been closed for months are busy considering what security will look like when they re-open to staff and then visitors. 

 

It's certainly a different world: as mentioned in a previous post, visitors will be returning to cultural institutions wearing masks, utilizing time-ticketing in many venues, and even undergoing temperature checks at some institutions. They will be perhaps be entering and exiting in new ways. Bag checks will be discontinued in some places; gift shops and restaurants closed in others.

 

Anette Hansen, the Chair of the International Committee for Museum Security, provides wisdom on Interpol's website: “Swift return to the normal situation is the best security measure one can have!” 

 

Her point is an important one: security can be slow to adapt to change, so the quicker museums can get back to a normal state of operations, the better.

 

But what is "normal?" Many of the factors that will determine what normal is are outside of the purview of security personnel, and range from the pre-COVID19 design of existing exhibition spaces to advances in public health measures and research.

 

Perhaps the most overused phrase during the global pandemic has been "the new normal." The truth is, it's a moving target. The challenges museums and other institutions will face on Day One of re-opening will look different than those they face on Day Ten and will continue to evolve from there

 

. Lessons will be learned. Unforeseen risks will be identified. In some ways, institutions will be more secure, thanks to the limits many will enforce regarding occupancy. In others, they will be less secure, mostly due to masks hiding the identity of people within the footprint of the building. 

 

Perhaps before long a vaccine will be developed that will render many of the new precautions unnecessary. But that's unlikely. Until then, security will need to be flexible and supremely vigilant. 

 

 

 

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