Anchorage Museum closes doors for four-week reset

The museum plans to reopen in September
Published: Aug. 3, 2020 at 4:25 PM AKDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - As bars and restaurants close their take-out services as ordered in the Municipality of Anchorage’s four-week reset, the Anchorage Museum also plans to temporarily close its doors.

Director and CEO of the Anchorage Museum, Julie Decker, said the decision was made in support of public health efforts to reduce the spread of COVID-19.

“It’s a difficult decision because we never like to be closed, we like to serve the public, but we think in this case serving the public does mean supporting public health efforts,” Decker said.

The museum will close Aug. 5 and Decker hopes to reopen the building on Sept. 2. While the in-person exhibitions are closed, Decker said virtual exhibitions and programs will still continue throughout the month of August. The museum’s virtual programs range from summer camps to workshops and classes.

More virtual offerings are being offered for those who are hesitant about entering a public facility during the pandemic and for people around the world to view the Anchorage Museum.

While the museum normally sees thousands of summer visitors, the lack of tourists had already lowered daily capacity to 40-100 mostly local visitors.

Decker said the pandemic has been “devastating” for the museum but staff will continue creating virtual programming in support of their mission.

“It is a time for free access and free public programming, but that does mean there’s close to no earned revenue at this time,” Decker said. “But ultimately, we’re a public institution that believes deeply in serving public needs, and if that means we need to provide free programming and free access right now then that’s what we’ll do.”

Almost all of the exhibitions currently at the museum have been extended, Decker said. Additionally, the museum is developing online exhibitions for people to continue learning from home.

Decker said the museum had anticipated the possibility of another closure during 2020, and so there will be a wide range of virtual programs launching in September. One of those events is a “reimagined” North X North Festival which will have outdoor installations.

September will also hold virtual First Friday and Anchorage Design Week.

Other learning institutions around Anchorage have closed in-person services during the pandemic, including the Anchorage Public Library, which scaled back in-person services like using laptops in July.

The “four-week reset” is part of Mayor Ethan Berkowitz’s Emergency Order 15 which also limits gathering sizes for nightclubs, restaurants and entertainment businesses like bingo halls and theaters.

E0-15 requires businesses to have employees work remotely as long as it doesn’t impede business operations.

The order encourages “public-facing businesses” to implement practices that avoid in-person gatherings such as implementing hours for at-risk populations and prioritizing online ordering.

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