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August 31, 2020

Christina Claassen, Marketing & PR Manager
Whatcom Museum

Whatcom Museum to Reopen at Limited Capacity in Phase 2

The Whatcom Museum Lightcatcher galleries, Museum Store and Old City Hall in Downtown Bellingham will reopen to the public Sat., Sept. 19, 2020 under Governor Jay Inslee’s amended Phase 2 Safe Start plan for museums.

Member-only days will be offered Sept. 16-18. The Family Interactive Gallery (FIG) will reopen at a later date. Photo Archives will be open by appointment only. The Museum will initially be open with limited capacity of 25 percent on Wednesdays through Sundays, with hours from noon – 4:30 p.m.

"We are so excited to finally be able to open once again and see our members and guests after such a long hiatus,” said Executive Director Patricia Leach. “We have rigorous safety protocols in place, often exceeding state health guidelines, in our effort to make our guests feel comfortable and safe when they visit, and we hope to see people back in our doors soon!”

Bellingham Mayor Seth Fleetwood added, “We are pleased to reopen the Whatcom Museum with strict measures in place to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. Our Museum galleries will be a popular recreation and cultural option for community members and visitors as we look toward fall and seek safe indoor activities.”

The Museum must ensure strict adherence to all measures established by Governor Inslee’s guidance. Visitors can expect several safety protocols put into place, and the Museum will be following guidelines from the American Alliance of Museums, as well as enlisting the help of Sansee Shield, a private COVID-19 certification company to certify its safety standards. Guidelines are subject to change according to the governor’s office and health department recommendations.

Safety protocols include, but are not limited to:

  • All Museum staff are required to wear face coverings in visitor areas.
  • Visitors age 2+ are required to wear a face covering per the governor’s guidelines for museum operations, which will be enforced. For a list of exemptions, click here. The Museum will provide a disposable mask for those who need one. Reusable cloth masks are available for purchase at the Museum Store.
  • Sneeze guards have been installed at admission and check-in areas.
  • Admissions, store purchases and other transactions will have limited contact.
  • Visitors checking in must wait in line six (6) feet apart from those not in their group until Admissions staff calls them forward.
  • Hand-sanitizing stations are available throughout the museum.
  • Visitors must stay at least six (6) feet apart from those not in their group.
  • Increased signage has been posted for directional flow and distancing.
  • Reduced number of visitors allowed inside galleries.
  • One family group allowed in the Museum Store at a time, with one-way directional flow.
  • CDC-approved, non-toxic Force of Nature™ electrolysis cleaner is being used to disinfect hands-on interactives.
  • CDC-approved self-cleaning NanoSeptic® skins have been applied to high-touch surfaces such as door handles, elevator/interactive buttons and touch screens.
  • Restrooms will have waiting areas and/or directional flow signage to promote social distancing.
  • Lockers will not be available. Coat areas will have two-way directional flow signage.
  • Fresh air will be circulated frequently throughout buildings daily.
  • Increased intervals of sanitation with deep cleaning performed after closing.
  • If visitors feel sick or have any symptoms of COVID-19, live with or care for someone who has been sick, or have traveled/live with someone who has traveled in the last 14 days, we ask they visit us at another time.

The Museum will not be hosting in-person school tours, programs, lectures or public gatherings during this phase of re-opening. Event rentals have been canceled through the end of the year. Museum programs will continue to be held virtually. For updates on upcoming exhibitions, virtual programs and Museum operations during COVID-19.

        We acknowledge that Whatcom County is located on the unceded territory of the Coast Salish Peoples. They cared for the lands that included what we’d call the Puget Sound region, Vancouver Island and British Columbia since time immemorial. This gives us the great obligation and opportunity to learn how to care for our surrounding areas and all the natural and human resources we require to live. We express our deepest respect and gratitude for our indigenous neighbors, the Lummi Nation and Nooksack Tribe, for their enduring care and protection of our shared lands and waterways.
Bellingham Whatcom County Tourism
Visitor Center Located at I-5 Exit 253 - Check Hours
904 Potter Street, Bellingham, WA 98229
Phone: 360-671-3990

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