Museum of the North to reopen on July 8th

Upon opening, the museum will allow 60 visitors at a time to allow for social distancing....
Upon opening, the museum will allow 60 visitors at a time to allow for social distancing. (Alex Bengel/KTVF) (KTVF)
Published: Jun. 26, 2020 at 2:39 PM AKDT
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The Museum of the North (MoN) at the University of Alaska Fairbanks will reopen its doors to the public on Wednesday, July 8th.

After closing on March 13th due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the museum continued to function as a research facility during the intervening months.

According to the museum’s Director, Pat Druckenmiller, the decision to reopen came as the university gradually reopens its facilities. “University policy has been a bit more restrictive than the state guidelines to ensure the safety and health of everyone,” he said.

Precautions are being taken to ensure proper social distancing. Face masks will be required at all times, the museum will only allow 60 people at a time consistent with 25 percent capacity, and visits are limited to two hours at a time.

Druckenmiller said the museum is working on a system to take reservations for visits, but for the time being the museum’s space is first-come, first-serve.

According to the MoN’s website, visitors will not be allowed who have traveled outside of Alaska within 14 days of their visit, and all visitors will have to sign in so that contact tracing can be done.

To maintain social distancing, two areas in the museum will not reopen on July 8th: “The Place Where You Go to Listen” room will remain closed, and movies will not be hosted in the auditorium.

Museum membership holders will also have the opportunity to visit during a soft reopening from June 29th to July 1st.

The developing situation with the pandemic will be monitored to inform the continued opening of the museum, according to Druckenmiller.

“Our reopening plans absolutely will be continually monitored and if necessary will change, and we may have to close our doors again if necessary in the interest of public health. So that’s a process that we’ll be continually reassessing,” he said.

After reopening, the Museum of the North’s hours will be Wednesdays through Sundays, 10:00am to 7:00pm. According to Druckenmiller, large group events and activities will not be resumed at this time, though he added that the museum has worked to make its activities and outreach programs available virtually.

“I like to think of the museum as a real gathering place for all elements of our society. We showcase all sides of both the human and the natural world that I think attract all members of our society, and it’s really important for us to be here to provide a safe and open environment for people to come into and learn about our history, our culture and our natural history,” he said.

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