Children—not members, not the public—will be the first visitors when the High Museum in Atlanta reopens on 8 June. They will be coming to participate in its summer art camps, which lets children from the first to the eight grades explore the galleries and create their own art. “They’ll take over the entire museum” for a full month, says Rand Suffolk, the museum’s director.
The High closed its doors because of the coronavirus pandemic on 12 March, and Suffolk says this reopening strategy will help parents in Atlanta who have been both working at home and caring for their children. In calls made by museum staff—the High never furloughed or terminated any employees, but did redirect some efforts to calling members—“we knew there was a real need” for the camps, Suffolk says.
The camps run into August, but the kids will get company on 7 July, when the museum reopens to members, front-line and health care workers and teachers—with free entry. On 18 July, the High will open to the public, but at a reduced level of attendance, that is still to be determined. Like other museums, the High will be cleaning its premises frequently, requiring staff that interacts with the public to wear masks, placing hand sanitizer around the museum, selling timed tickets, limiting the number of people in elevators and encouraging cashless transactions. Suffolk says that they have not yet decided whether to require the public to wear masks, but will be learning from what happens at Atlanta institutions that open earlier.
For the fiscal year that began 1 June, the High has budgeted “zero earned income,” Suffolk says. “We have no set expectations for the number of people who will come through the door. We realise that we will have to recalibrate our metrics of success.”