Important safety guidelines

MUSEUM PHASED RE-OPENING

We’re back, and we can’t wait to see you at the Science Museum! Our staff is hard at work making sure your visit is as safe as possible, and we have developed best practices following guidelines from our local science and health officials. We’ll continue to monitor public health locally and nationally, and will look for your feedback on your experience, too! Your support—through Membership and donations, interactions on social media, sharing and enjoying our digital Learn From Home series, and more—is the reason we’re able to re-open and share science with you in person. Thank you! The following FAQ has all the information you need to understand our commitment to a safe museum environment and enjoy your visit.

We appreciate your cooperation during this unprecedented time. For the latest health guidelines, please visit CDC website.

WHAT TO EXPECT

Icons for advanced ticketing, online payment, masks required, safely spaced

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

How did you determine it is safe to reopen? 

Public health and safety is the number one priority, and when we closed, we committed to only reopening when we could be confident that we could do so safely. Health officials’ recommendations regarding safe distancing and sanitization practices are the base of every decision. Our visitors can be assured that we are giving careful consideration to the safety practices we will implement to keep them safe during their visit. 

We are also doing extensive audience research to determine our visitors’ comfort level in regards to visiting. There are significant infrastructure costs to reopen the museum, so we want to ensure that our reopening plans align with our visitors’ and Members’ intent to return. In addition to our visitors’ and staff’s health and safety, we are committed to keeping the museum financially healthy so that we can continue operating far into the future. 

When will the museum open? 

The Science Museum of Minnesota is using a phased approach for reopening, based on how science is informing us about public health and safety, our business needs, and the preferences of our visitors. We are planning to open exclusively to Members during weekends in August and to the public during weekends in September. 

The museum will be open to the public starting on the weekend of September 4-6. In this phase of reopening, the museum will be open to the public on Fridays and Saturdays from 10 a.m.–8 p.m. and Sundays from 10 a.m.–5 p.m. Members will also have early access to the museum August 21-23 and August 28-30, and from 9–10 a.m. all days the museum is open. 

Will the Omnitheater open?

The Omnitheater will reopen with the rest of the museum, but visitors can expect reduced capacity to allow for a safe distance between viewers, and fewer showtimes to allow for cleaning between movies. Our first giant screen feature post-COVID closure will be Ancient Caves, which had just premiered before closure. Please note that advanced reservations and assigned seating will be required. 

What steps are you taking to keep staff and visitors safe while in the building? 

  • Regular and frequent housekeeping practices, including routine cleaning and disinfecting of shared surfaces, equipment, tools and machinery, and areas in the work environment, including restrooms, break, lunch rooms, and meeting rooms.  

  • Implementation of cleaning risk mitigation strategies and disinfection of public spaces and frequently touched surfaces such as door handles, elevator buttons, vending machines, push plates, stair rails, restroom fixtures, countertops, faucet handles, and water fountains will remain an elevated priority. 

  • Designated custodial staff will focus on frequently touched surfaces utilizing EPA-registered disinfectants, based on OSHA standards, CDC directives, and MDH recommendations. To hinder transmission and cross-contamination during all public operational and scheduled business hours, a dedicated custodial disinfection specialist will use an electrostatic sanitizing atomizer, ATP (adenosine triphosphate) surface testing, and approved purification agents as recommended. 

  • Engineering controls will be implemented for exposure reduction solutions, such as increasing HVAC ventilation and enhanced air filter supply exchange circulation.

Is it possible that the museum will close again if case numbers of COVID-19 go up?

We’re monitoring the situation very closely and following the lead of local and state health officials. We’ll also be collecting visitor feedback about their experiences. We will be flexible should experts recommend a different course of action. 

Since the situation is changing so rapidly, where can I get the most up-to-date information on operations and hours? 

Keep an eye on smm.org, subscribe to our email updates, and follow us on social media for the latest updates: Facebook | Twitter | Instagram.

Is food service available?

Our food service partners at Lancer Hospitality are hard at work implementing measures and practices that will help keep visitors safe. Java Lab, its quick service location in the lobby on level 5, will be the first to reopen, serving coffee, espresso, and other beverages. The date for re-opening is still being determined. Our other two eateries, Chomp and Elements Cafe, will reopen in the coming months. 

Other museums are already open. Why did it take the Science Museum so long to reopen?

Our slow and cautious phased approach to reopening, which utilizes the science of epidemiology and disease transmission, allows us to take the time now to put safety practices in place that will ensure a safe visit. There is much we still don’t know about this virus, and we are committed to letting science guide our decision-making. With no vaccine or clear understanding about how COVID-19 is transmitted, health experts are still cautioning against large gatherings where social distancing is challenging, like those you’d find at museums, theaters, concerts, fairs, and festivals. Since there are so many “high-touch” areas of our exhibits and interactive areas, we needed time to assess what could be properly sanitized and what needed to be temporarily removed from visitor areas after taking recommended public health and safety measures into account.

What changes should I expect compared to pre-COVID visits?

You’ll still be able to explore the dinosaurs, snap selfies with the giant astronaut, race against your favorite athletes in Sportsology, and much more. New practices include: 

  • Advanced timed ticketing for museum and Omnitheater entry

  • Safely spaced seating in the Omnitheater

  • Online payment and contactless payment in the Explore Store

  • More space between exhibit components to support social distancing, with any components that can’t be quickly or frequently disinfected removed.  

  • Wider walkways

  • Drinking fountains will be turned off and unavailable for use

  • Safety reminders throughout the premises

  • Limited entry to elevators and other enclosed spaces

 Do I need to reserve tickets in advance?

Yes. To ensure that we are in compliance with all public health and safety orders, visitors are required to purchase tickets in advance of their visit. This allows us to protect your health and safety and keep close track of the number of people who are in the facility at one time.

Will I need to wear a mask when I visit?

Yes. In accordance with Saint Paul Mayor Melvin Carter’s Executive Order 2020-09 and to help protect both our visitors and our staff from the spread of COVID-19, the Science Museum will require visitors ages 2 and older to wear face masks when visiting the museum. Visitors who do not arrive with face masks may purchase them in the Explore Store on level 5.

Note: The Science Museum will provide reasonable accommodations for visitors who have a medical condition or disability that prevents their ability to wear a mask. Masks will be provided free of charge to Great Tix and Great Membership visitors. 

We ask for visitors’ cooperation in maintaining a safe distance and adhering to our efforts to make all visits as safe as possible. Visitors who are dismissive of these efforts or who endanger the health and safety of other visitors will be asked to leave. Please share this with all members of your group.

Why should I become or stay a Member if you’re operating on limited capacity?

Membership is more important than ever, and we are so grateful for our Members’ ongoing support during these challenging and uncertain times. We want you to get the most out of your Member benefits and have extended your Membership to cover the length of the COVID-19 closure. 

In addition, Members will have exclusive access to the museum from 9-10 a.m. every day the museum is open, and we are continuing to develop and offer Member-only content and events. As always, Members receive exclusive content, including behind-the-scenes museum sneak peeks and early access to events and exhibits. 

What are some best practices for my visit? 

Staff, volunteers and visitors are instructed to cover their mouth and nose with their sleeve or a tissue when coughing or sneezing and avoid touching their faces, in particular their mouth, nose and eyes with their hands. They should dispose of tissues in the trash and wash or sanitize their hands immediately afterwards. This respiratory etiquette will be demonstrated on posters throughout the museum. In addition to mask-wearing and practicing social distancing, please also take advantage of hand sanitizing stations placed throughout the building for staff, volunteers and visitors. All restrooms have touchless faucets, soap dispensers, towel dispensers.

Is it safe to shop in the Explore Store?

When handling objects, all Explore Store staff will adhere to basic COVID-19 disinfection strategies and personal safety measures recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and public health departments. We have also placed high-touch items, such as plush items, to display areas so that staff members can provide them to customers upon request. 

What’s the cost of parking in the Science Museum ramp?

Parking at the Science Museum will be a $5 flat fee. Parking will be free for Members during the Member weekends in August.

I have free tickets that expired during your closure. Can I still use them once you reopen?

Yes. Expiration dates on all existing free tickets have been extended for one year. To redeem your complimentary passes, make an advance reservation by phone at (651) 221-9444. Please note that this time, complimentary passes can only be redeemed via phone reservations. 

What are you doing to keep staff safe?  

  • Upon entering, all Science Museum staff volunteers and vendors will be required to go through a brief screening by a trained member of our public safety team. This unobtrusive screening will include a non-contact thermal scan and fingertip oxygen level pulse check along with a few general questions. If a staff member is exhibiting symptoms consistent with COVID-19 during this screening they will be asked to go home. 

  • The Science Museum has leave policies that promote staff staying at home when they are sick, when household members are sick, or when required by a healthcare provider to isolate or quarantine themselves or a member of their household. We have also implemented a policy to inform employees if they have been exposed to a person with COVID‐19 at work and require them to quarantine for the required amount of time.

  • Basic infection prevention measures have been implemented at our workplaces at all times. Staff are instructed to wash their hands for at least 20 seconds with soap and water frequently throughout the day, but especially at the beginning and end of their shift, before and after any mealtimes, and after using the bathroom. All staff and volunteers entering any Science Museum of Minnesota facility will be required to wash their hands immediately upon entering the facility. The Science Museum of Minnesota will ensure all restrooms are adequately stocked with hand soap. We also have hand sanitizing stations placed throughout the building for staff, volunteers, and visitors. 

  • Appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) will be worn by all employees in adherence to state or local regulations and guidance. Training on how to properly use and dispose of all PPE will be mandatory. Every employee entering the facility will be provided one reusable face mask and is required to wear a mask while on the premises. 

I’m not comfortable visiting the museum yet. What distance-learning services are you providing? 

We’re still dedicated to keeping you connected from a distance! Discover new topics on our Learn From Home page and social media channels. Members can also join and add a comment to the discussions in the Members-exclusive Facebook group.

If your question is not on the list, please contact (651) 221-9444 or info@smm.org; museum representatives are happy to assist you. Policies and procedures are subject to change based on public health best practices and recommendations from public health officials.