Every summer, thousands of Americans visit museums, attend art performances, and take part in other cultural activities. But with social distancing guidelines still in effect in the United States, cultural experiences may look different this summer. Museums and cultural centers have been closed since mid-March, and many performances for the summer have been cancelled.
Washington, D.C. will enter its second phase of re-opening near the end of the month. The guidelines for Phase 2 allow for the re-opening of libraries, museums, and exhibits. However, these places are only allowed to operate with strict capacity limits and physical distancing measures. Small events with up to 50 people are permitted, but large tour groups and guided tours are not.
The Smithsonian Institution, the largest museum complex in the world, has yet to announce their plans for re-opening during the COVID-19 pandemic. Only one museum in D.C. has made definite plans to re-open during Phase 2. In addition to the government guidelines, the museum has installed plexiglass panels, improved their sanitization procedures, and installed markers for a recommended flow path to help visitors socially distance. They are also requiring guests to wear cloth face coverings at all times.
Other cultural activities, such as concerts and theatre performances, were mostly cancelled for the summer at the start of the pandemic. Some venues are trying to adapt and implement safety guidelines with the hopes of re-opening later in the summer. For example, the American Shakespeare Center in Virginia is proposing a combination of live and digital theatre to keep both the actors and audience safe.
If you are looking for cultural experiences this summer, you may want to look for online at-home experiences and classes. Remember that it is still important to abide by social distancing guidelines to stay safe if you go out in public. Wear a cloth face covering, wash your hands often, and maintain a distance of at least six feet from others.