After closing temporarily in March due to the COVID-19 pandemic, metro Atlanta’s major museums and other similar venues started to reopen in June and July.
While shuttered, all have adjusted to the closure by offering online programs such as virtual tours and programs. They have also required visitors to pre-purchase tickets online and implemented new health and safety protocols.
Here’s a look at the metro area’s museums in the counties the Neighbor covers:
The Atlanta History Center in Buckhead reopened its 33-acre Goizueta Gardens June 15 and its indoor exhibitions July 3.
Clare Haley, a center spokeswoman, said it is seeing less than half of the normal amount of visitors so far this summer.
“The lower numbers are mostly local visitors and members,” she said. “Many of our usual summertime visitors are group tours and other tourists, which we are understandably not seeing due to the pandemic. The lower numbers actually make it easier to maintain our capacity limitations and other safety protocols.
“… Under the difficult circumstances, we’ve been satisfied with our reopening so far.”
But the Margaret Mitchell House, located five miles south in Midtown and operated by the center, remains temporarily closed, according to its website.
Also in Midtown, the Museum of Design Atlanta is still closed. According to its website, a reopening date has not been set yet.
Another Midtown venue, the Center for Puppetry Arts, reopened July 10. According to its website, visitors must wear masks and some facilities in the center are temporarily closed to the public.
Also in Midtown, the High Museum of Art reopened for members and front-line workers July 7 and for the public July 18.
“We have seen great support from our members and frontline workers since we reopened,” High spokeswoman Kristie Swink Benson said. “We had approximately 1,050 members and front-line workers reserve tickets during the first week. … Members have been very responsive and excited about coming back to the museum. We have been pleased with the engagement from our members, especially since COVID-19 requires each person to make very personal decisions about their comfortability.”
Also in Midtown, the William Breman Jewish Heritage Museum has not reopened yet. David Schendowich, the museum’s spokesman, said it has “explored several options for opening our doors to visitors and we have a comprehensive plan.” He added the Breman could reopen in August.
“Currently we are installing a new exhibition in anticipation of opening soon,” Schendowich said. “However, based on the fluid nature of the behavior of this virus, we are planning to open in a limited way when it is considered safe for visitors and employees. At first the museum will be open for members only in small groups and designated time periods.”
Four miles southeast in Atlanta’s Poncey-Highland community, the Carter Center and Library/Museum remains temporarily closed. According to its website, a reopening date has not been scheduled yet.
Three miles west in downtown Atlanta, the Chick-fil-A College Football Hall of Fame reopened July 1.
“We’ve had a tremendous fan response on social media since we reopened,” CEO Kimberly Beaudin said. “The fans that have visited are grateful we are open, have loved the new exhibits and appreciate the safety measures and protocols we have put in place.
“While the interest and response has been very positive, attendance is slower than we projected and as a nonprofit, that puts a burden on our operations. We are hopeful that as the word continues to spread that we are open, more fans will make their way downtown.”
Beaudin added she hopes more fans will visit the Hall soon.
“The level of interest is in line with what we expected, but it has not yet resulted in the attendance we need,” she said. “We want fans to know it is safe to come downtown. The (Georgia) Aquarium is open as well, so they can make a day out of it.”
Speaking of the aquarium, it opened for members June 13 and the public two days later. According to its website, the attraction implemented new health and safety guidelines for visitors July 1.
Also downtown, the Children’s Museum of Atlanta reopened to members June 26 and the public July 1.
“Level of interest in the museum has stayed consistently positive, and guests were eager to return after our three-month temporary closure,” Executive Director Jane Turner said. “We express great thanks to our guests for staying engaged with the Museum throughout our reopening.
“Things have gone very smoothly, and we’ve received positive feedback from the community. Our new safety measures have generally been received positively, and as a result, the museum’s reopening has been an enjoyable and safe experience.”
Also downtown, the National Center for Civil and Human Rights remains temporarily closed. According to its website, a reopening date has not been scheduled yet.
Just east of downtown, the Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historical Park remains temporarily closed. According to its website, a reopening date has not been scheduled yet.
Ten miles south in Hapeville, the Delta Flight Museum has remained temporarily closed since mid-March. Director of Operations Tiffany Meng said the museum tentatively plans to reopen in the fall, but no date has been set yet.
“We are answering questions at least four to five days a week from visitors wondering if we have reopened yet,” she said. “We expect attendance to be lower than pre-COVID levels as we have cancelled all public tours and are not accepting group reservations until 2021.
“Our reopening plan is under constant adjustment as we see what other museums and the community are doing.”
Also in Hapeville, the Fulton County Schools’ Teaching Museum South, plus its Teaching Museum North in Roswell, serve the district’s students but are normally open to the public by appointment. However, both museums remain closed to the public due to the pandemic, Curator Jena Sibille said.
“We will reopen to the public once allowed by district policy,” she said.
In DeKalb County, the Michael C. Carlos Museum of Emory University remains temporarily closed, and its reopening date will be determined by when the Emory campus reopens, museum spokeswoman Allison Hutton said. She added the museum’s members and supporters have done what they can to sustain it, especially by buying items online at the Carlos Museum Bookshop.
“We’re thrilled with the level of support we have from our community, but I don’t think we’re surprised,” she said. “Art is healing; it’s a respite, and it brings people comfort and joy — things so many of us are craving right now.”
Also in DeKalb, the Fernbank Museum reopened for members June 1 and the public three days later.
“We have received generally positive feedback on our reopening plans and the procedures we have put in place to keep guests, members and staff safe during their museum experience,” Fernbank spokesman Tyler Thornton said. “Social media has typically shown that museum visitors have felt very safe upon their visits and commend the steps we are taking to ensure everyone can have a safe and fun visit to Fernbank Museum. Our attendance is understandably not what we’d usually see in the summer months and tends to vary but is growing, especially on the weekends.
“The vastness of Fernbank, which includes the museum, WildWoods and Forest, means our guests have a lot of room to roam, both indoors and outside, without feeling crowded or concerned. Our expanded weekend hours on Friday and Saturday (5:30 to 9 p.m.) have also provided opportunities for young adults and guests of all ages to experience Fernbank in a new way.”
He also said while Fernbank’s “initial level of interest was not what we expected,” it has increased and could rise even more with the phased reopening of exhibits and programs, such as Scales and Tails July 18.
The Booth Western Art Museum, the Tellus Science Museum and the Bartow History Museum, all in Cartersville, reopened to members June 13 and to the public June 20, according to their websites.
“The member preview days we had a steady flow,” Booth Western spokeswoman Sandy Scott said of its reopening. “They seemed excited to be back in the building to see staff and the collection, and to have somewhat ‘normal’ day. When we opened up to everyone, we had more reservations; everyone seemed to enjoy being out of their homes.
“The level of interest was better than we expected.”
The Douglas County Museum of History and Art reopened July 7 and requires visitors to wear masks, its website stated.