Many museums in Kitsap County are preparing to reopen to the public courtesy of an order issued by Gov. Jay Inslee.
Many have been closed since March due to coronavirus restrictions.
The Bainbridge Island Historical Museum and the Bainbridge Island Museum of Art are preparing for partial reopenings Sept. 4.
“We are thrilled to be able to partially reopen to the public and welcome visitors back to our museum once again,” said Brianna Kosowitz, executive director for the Historical Museum.
The Historical Museum intends to be open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Friday-Sunday while the Art Museum intends to be open daily from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
“With a small staff of volunteers, many of whom are in the high-risk population, the museum is taking every precaution to reopen at a pace and capacity that is manageable,” Kosowitz said.
The Historical Museum will only accommodate two groups of five at a time and certain parts of the museum will remain closed until the state moves into Phase 4.
Additionally, the museum is recruiting college students and others in the low-risk category to volunteer in place of those who are at higher risk of catching COVID-19.
The Bainbridge Island Children’s Museum was unavailable for comment.
Leaders around the state are excited about Inslee’s decision.
“This has come not a moment too soon. Many of our museums were on the brink of disaster” Karen Hanan, executive director of the state Arts Commission, said in a news release. “Because of social distancing requirements, the arts and culture sector has been severely impacted by the pandemic. Many in our sector will be among the last to fully reopen. With a safety plan in place, museums and galleries will be ready to open their doors.”
Hanan put out a call to arts leaders statewide to work together to devise safe reopening plans and submit them to state government for review.
“Our communities need their museums to ground and connect them, to provide meaningful education opportunities, access, and care for our children, and in times of social upheaval to help bring people together to create shared understandings and common community goals,” said Keni Sturgeon, executive director of the Wenatchee Valley Museum & Cultural Center. “It is a positive step forward that our state’s museums can now safely reopen and re-engage with communities who so need that right now.”
Currently, the only museum open in Poulsbo is the Martinson Cabin located on Lindvig Way. The cabin was built in the late 1800s and is a historical landmark to the early days of the Nordic influenced city. The cabin is open on Saturdays from 10 a.m to 4 p.m. The Martinson Cabin is run by the Poulsbo Historical Society, which also runs the Poulsbo Maritime Museum and Poulsbo Heritage Museum.
Pre-COVID the Poulsbo Maritime Museum was open seven days a week.
“This museum got 22,000 + visitors a year pre-pandemic, and we really want to get it opened up again,” said MaryAnn Acosta, acting executive director for the Poulsbo Historical Society.
Since COVID however, only the front gift shop has been open a few days a week, though the historical society is working on a plan for the museum to regulate traffic flow and social distancing.
The Heritage Museum is located inside Poulsbo City Hall, so it can’t reopen until the state deems that government buildings are safe to reopen.
The Heritage Museum is not the only one that will remain closed despite the governor’s decision.
“As we are federal museums, we follow the guidance of our parent command. Both of our museums (and all the rest of the Navy’s museums in the country) will remain closed at least through November 1, per our leadership’s decision. Our opening process/procedures won’t be finalized until we get closer to that date,” said Lindy Dosher, director of the US Naval Undersea Museum and Puget Sound Navy Museum.
Additionally, the SEA Discovery Center owned and operated by Western Washington University will remain closed to the public until fall of 2021. Aug. 28 will be the last time many can catch a virtual tour of the aquarium.
“We’re grateful that the governor has allowed similar entities to open and agree this is critical for many centers to be able to operate. However, as an entity of Western Washington University, our plans for revisioning operations at SEA Discovery Center remain unchanged…,” said Holly Hill, senior director for SEA Discovery Center.