OKC VeloCity | OKC museums prepared to welcome guests

OKC museums prepared to welcome guests

By Justin Tinder / Inside OKC / June 19, 2020

Oklahoma City’s biggest museums have now opened or are in the final stages of welcoming back visitors as the COVID-19 restrictions ease on public gatherings. Let’s take a look at five of the city’s most prominent museums and their reopening plans.

Oklahoma City Museum of Art

Plans call for the museum to reopen to the general public on June 17. During the temporary closure, the OKCMOA debuted virtual screenings and plans to continue these screenings through the remainder of the month. The Samuel Roberts Noble Theater will open with strict capacity limits and additional social distancing protocols in place, with the Museum Cafe closed until further notice.

Opening along with the Museum is the special summer exhibition, POP Power from Warhol and Koons: Masterworks from the Collection of Jordan D. Schnitzer and His Family Foundation.

“Ultimately, we must rethink the museum experience with social distancing practices in mind, putting these and other new measures in place so that our visitors can once again experience great works of art in person and on the big screen,” said Michael J. Anderson, PhD, President & CEO. “With that said, we may be in a very different place as a community in another week or month, and if we are, we won’t hesitate to delay our plans if health experts and civic leaders recommend that we do so.”

Science Museum of Oklahoma

Following a historic closure, Science Museum Oklahoma opened its doors June 1 with comprehensive new safety precautions, ticket processes, and changes to the way guests will explore SMO.

Since May 1, SMO’s team has been phasing back into operations, focused on properly preparing the building and staff for reopening with added precautions and procedures. All staff has been trained in new health and safety protocols and the entire museum has undergone deep sanitization.

“We’re excited to welcome our community back but doing so knowing that we have a great responsibility to operate safely,” said Sherry Marshall, president and CEO of Science Museum Oklahoma. The safety of our staff and guests has always come first – it is the foundation of everything we do and that will never change. Because of this, a visit to SMO will be a little different than before, but our staff is committed to creating a safe, welcoming experience that inspires and informs the entire family.”

Summer explorers can get up-close and personal with eight-legged creatures and giant animatronic insects in “Backyard Bugs: An Oklahoma Insect Adventure,” an Oklahoma Museum Network exhibit.

The exhibit includes an enormous animatronic praying mantis and the monarch butterfly, dozens of live insects, arachnids, crustaceans, and arthropods in the “It is an Insect?” station, “Return of the Cicadas,” a documentary funded by the National Science Foundation, plus hands-on components like a build-a-bug station, DIY firefly flash patterns, a climb-in honeycomb, and more.

Oklahoma Contemporary Arts Center

Oklahoma Contemporary Arts Center is working through a phased opening plan so guests can have their first-ever chance to visit the new museum.

On March 12, the day before its scheduled grand opening, Oklahoma Contemporary closed its doors to help slow the spread of the COVID-19 virus. The arts center is finalizing a plan to open in phases as restrictions ease.

“We have spent the weeks following the public health emergency consulting with medical professionals, civic officials and peer organizations. We have developed a data-based, phased plan to support our local arts community, expand our digital programming and, eventually, open our doors to the public,” said Eddie Walker, Oklahoma Contemporary executive director.

The arts center’s new, 4.6-acre campus is located at 11 NW 11th St. The 54,000 square foot building is home to galleries, classroom studios, performance spaces, community lounge, café and outdoor spaces to ensure something new to see and experience for everyone.

“We are eager to share our incredible exhibitions, engaging art classes and new programs. But the well-being of our community comes first. In light of the continuing threat, we decided to cancel all programs and remain closed to the public through at least mid-July,” Walker said.

If conditions allow, late in the summer, Oklahoma Contemporary will begin offering free timed ticketing to inaugural exhibitions Bright Golden Haze and Shadow on the Glare. The exhibitions have been extended through the fall to allow more time for visitors to experience the blockbuster shows.

Watch oklahomacontemporary.org and the arts center’s social platforms for more information about reserving your time to visit these exhibitions.

National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum

After a decade of planning, fundraising and building — plus a two-month delay due to the coronavirus pandemic — the Oklahoma City institution has debuted its new $15 million children's expansion, Liichokoshkomo. The museum and exhibit were made available to the public on May 18.

Pronounced Lee-cho-kosh-ko-MO and named for a Chickasaw phrase for “Let’s play," the attraction includes an intertribal Native American village, a replica train depot, cattle corral and more. The 100,000 square foot outdoor area will have feature spaces dedicated to cultural diversity, explored through family fun.

"It is the museum's first expansion in many years, and it is designed to be a hands-on, minds-on experience for children — and those of us who never really grew up. It is just an amazing walk through the West and the things that are important in the West," said Natalie Shirley, museum president and CEO.

Three of the longest-running events have been rescheduled after postponement as a result of the COVID-19 restrictions.

The Museum’s 60th Anniversary Western Heritage Awards will be held in conjunction with the Traditional Arts Exhibition and Sale on Oct. 2-3, 2020. The event was previously scheduled for April 17-18.

The 30th Annual Chuck Wagon Festival moves to the fall and will take place on Labor Day weekend, Sept. 5-6. The previous 29 Chuck Wagon Festivals were held on Memorial Day weekend.

The 48th Annual Prix de West Invitational Art Exhibition and Sale will be on exhibit from Aug. 1 to Sept. 13 with the sale taking place on Sept. 12.

Oklahoma City National Memorial and Museum

The Oklahoma City National Memorial & Museum reopened on June 10 after meeting the necessary recommendations from health and safety experts throughout its facilities. The museum has been quietly testing its ability to host visitors at 25% capacity with timed ticketing, social distancing, enhanced cleaning measures, and by providing each visitor with a stylus to use on our many touch screen interactives.

Some of its newest features include: Stronger Together Augmented Reality, 25th Anniversary Exhibit, and Oklahoma Standard Exhibit.

Augmented Reality allows visitors to use their phone or tablet to meet six storytellers who represent the thousands impacted by the bombing inside of augmented reality. They will share personal experiences of those they represent and guide you through themes of Speaking Up, Liberty vs. Security, Forgiveness, Punishment, Memorialization, and Ethics in Journalism.

The 25th Anniversary Exhibit is housed in the Museum lobby. It features a timeline with photos and artifacts from the past 25 years.

The Oklahoma Standard Exhibit is in recognition of the generous spirit of Oklahomans. It showcases the history of the Oklahoma Standard and challenges visitors to participate through acts of Service, Honor and Kindness.

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