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Baltimore’s Walters and Lewis museums announce reopening dates, protocols

Bank of America and Merrill Lynch credit card holders will be able to gain free admission to Baltimore's Reginald F. Lewis Museum of Maryland African American History & Culture the first weekend of every month.
Bank of America and Merrill Lynch credit card holders will be able to gain free admission to Baltimore's Reginald F. Lewis Museum of Maryland African American History & Culture the first weekend of every month. (Jed Kirschbaum / Baltimore Sun)

As soon as next week, Baltimoreans will once again be able to visit their favorite art masterpieces and historical artifacts up close and in person.

The Reginald F. Lewis Museum of Maryland African American History and Culture will unlock its doors Sept. 10, while the Walters Art Museum reopens its Centre Street building housing its collections of Egyptian, Roman and Medieval art on Sept. 16. The museums, which have been shuttered for six months by the pandemic, announced their reopening protocols Friday.

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The Baltimore Museum of Art previously announced its reopening for the same day as the Walters. The American Visionary Art Museum had initially hoped to greet guests on Labor Day weekend, only to have its plans pushed back when the basement flooded last month, according to director Rebecca Hoffberger. (No art was damaged.) She said they’re aiming to open later this month.

All four museum directors say they can’t wait to usher art lovers back into galleries.

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“The Walters is guided by the belief that art and history play vital roles in shaping people’s lives and connecting us with each other,” said Julia Mariciari-Alexander, the Walters’ director. “We are excited to invite people back into the museum and to once again share the art of this incredible collection with the community.”

But though great art is timeless, the way that visitors will view it has been changed by the pandemic. All the museums have adopted similar types of rules, such as social distancing, limits on group size and face masks, and will include hand sanitizing stations or touchless thermometers for temperature checks. However, details vary among the institutions.

Below are the new rules adopted by the Walters and Lewis:

The Walters:

  • The museum is reopening on Sept. 16 at 25% capacity, or 220 visitors at any one time from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesdays through Sundays. Groups are limited to 10 people or fewer.
  • Initially, only the Centre Street building will be open. The Hackerman House, which contains the museum’s extensive Asian arts collection, will remain closed, as will the museum store, cafe and family art-making center. Also on hold: the popular Late Night Thursday events, public events and rentals.
  • Advance tickets are not required.
  • Face masks must be worn throughout the museum. Visitors must remain six feet apart to ensure social distancing.
  • Some seating in the galleries has been removed, and the locker room is closed. Guests may bring into the galleries one bag that’s no larger than 11 inches by 15 inches.

The Lewis:

  • The museum reopens on Sept. 10 at 25% capacity, or 50 people per hour. It has reduced its operating hours as a result of the pandemic and now will be open from 10 am to 5 p.m. Thursdays through Saturdays and from 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. Sundays. In the past, the Lewis was open on Wednesdays.
  • Advance timed passes are recommended and can be purchased online.
  • Groups (including schools) are limited to 25 people or fewer. The museum show has a capacity of 10 guests, and elevators are limited to members of the same household.
  • Visitors must follow social distancing requirements using floor stickers as a guide. Only one-way traffic is permitted through the permanent exhibit on the third floor.
  • Masks are required throughout the museum.
  • The museum will be available for rentals to corporate and civic groups of up to 25 attendees. Participants must wear masks and follow social-distancing requirements. The Lewis is not accepting rentals now for social events such as parties and weddings.

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