Orange County Museums Eye Reopening But Remain Cautious

As Orange County inches closer toward Tier Two, or the "red" tier of coronavirus prevalence outlined by Gov. Gavin Newsom's "Blueprint for a Safer Economy," local museums and galleries are anticipating reopening after a long and painful period of forced closure. According to the blueprint, museums would be able to reopen at 25% capacity in Tier Two.

The COVID-19 shutdown has been devastating for museums in Southern California and nationwide, with one out of every three facing closure permanently as funding sources and financial reserves run dry, according to a survey conducted in June by the American Alliance of Museums.

Museums and galleries across the country have had to lay off and furlough staff, including those in Orange County. California museums have been losing over $22 million a day due to the statewide quarantine, according to the California Association of Museums. Since mid-March, California museums have lost more than $3.3 billion in revenue.

Yet, as indoor malls like South Coast Plaza and hair and nail salons are allowed to open under Tier One, or the "purple" tier, many in the museum world wonder why they haven't been able to welcome in visitors as well.

Museums typically have excellent ventilation and air-conditioning systems to keep artworks pristine, and they can control attendance through timed, pre-purchased tickets, reservations and signage for social distancing. They can also easily track temperatures of patrons at entrances and enforce mask wearing.

"I don’t know of another institution more prepared to open than the Bowers," said Peter C. Keller, president and CEO of the Bowers Museum since 1991. "We're good to go. There's nothing safer than a museum. By definition, you're not supposed to touch things that are in museums."

While the majority of Orange County's arts and culture organizations and venues remain physically closed; virtual/streaming offerings are thriving, and some outdoor venues are beginning their phased re-openings. Arts Orange County is pleased to combine its recommendations for online enrichment with some good news about places you can now visit personally. ArtsOC and Voice of OC continue to urge everyone to follow the State and County's current precautionary guidelines as they venture out. Masks and distancing save lives. 


Summer Replay with Pacific Symphony

The booming, triumphant "1812 Overture" is the headline work in the final edition of the Symphony's summer virtual concert series  DETAILS »


Casa Jazz Club at Casa Romantica

This annual, intimate celebration of contemporary jazz masters in San Clemente will be held outdoors with seating distanced and attendance capped at 50 guests  DETAILS »


DTSA First Saturday Digital Artwalk

Downtown Santa Ana continues its innovative online artwalk experience, taking you into the galleries and creative spaces of local visual artists to see their latest works and works-in-progress  DETAILS »


Halloween Boutique at Roger's Gardens

The Corona Del Mar headquarters for home and garden design has had a spooky, family-friendly makeover that can send your child hunting for pirate treasure as you decorate for Halloween - masks and distancing required for all visitors  DETAILS »

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