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Baltimore Museum of Art set to reopen in stages starting Sept. 16, months after being shuttered by coronavirus

The Baltimore Museum of Art will begin reopening to the public Sept. 16, six months after the pandemic shuttered Maryland museums statewide.
The Baltimore Museum of Art will begin reopening to the public Sept. 16, six months after the pandemic shuttered Maryland museums statewide. (Baltimore Sun photo by Gabe Dinsmoor)

The Baltimore Museum of Art announced Thursday that it will begin reopening to the public at 25% of the galleries’ capacity on Sept. 16, six months after the pandemic shuttered Maryland museums statewide.

Visitors will be required to wear masks and social distancing measures will be in place, so the visitor experience won’t be identical to what it was before the coronavirus reached the state in March.

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“After several months of closure, we are very much looking forward to the public returning to the museum,” the BMA’s director, Christopher Bedford, said in a news release.

“The BMA has long been guided by a belief in the importance of art to our social fabric. In difficult times, its ability to foster conversation and encourage new ways of thinking and considering the world around us feels particularly urgent and needed.”

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Among other measures, the museum will reopen in three phases staggered a week apart. Visitors will be strongly encouraged — though not required — to reserve advance entrance times online.

Because it’s easier to ensure social distancing in galleries than at concerts, Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan has allowed Baltimore’s museums to resume operations several months before musical ensembles and theater troupes can start performing live again.

By the end of September, the city’s four art museums will have reopened: The Reginald F. Lewis Museum of Maryland African American History & Culture will greet visitors Sept. 10, the Walters Art Museum is tentatively looking at a Sept. 16 reopening and the American Visionary Art Museum will open sometime in September, their directors said.

Highlights of the BMA’s reopening plan include:

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  • Phase One begins Sept. 16, reopening galleries including the east lobby, and the African, Asian, and European art galleries. Phase Two, starting Sept. 23, features the reopening of the famed Cone Collection of post-Impressionist masterworks and the Contemporary Art collection. On Sept. 30, the entire museum will have reopened.
  • Each day will be divided into 15-minute time slots. Fifteen advance timed-entry passes and up to six passes for walk-up guests will be distributed for each interval. The BMA’s total daily visitors will gradually increase from 350 guests on Sept. 16 to 525 visitors — 25% of the galleries’ capacity — by Sept. 30. Timed passes can be obtained at artbma.org by museum members beginning Aug. 28 and by the public starting Sept. 4.
  • Groups are limited to five people, and visitors must wear masks. Red stickers on the floor will indicate where visitors should stand to maintain social distancing.

“We are confident we have established systems and processes that will provide both a safe and enjoyable experience for the public,” the BMA’s Bedford said in the release. “While some aspects of the experience will certainly be different, we are working hard to ensure that our visitors understand the changes and feel comfortable ... during their visit to the BMA.”

Gertrude’s Chesapeake Kitchen, the independently operated restaurant inside the museum, remains open, as does the museum’s outdoor Sculpture Garden, officials said.

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