Less Is More as a Texas Art Museum Reopens

By Michael Hardy
Social distancing was not a problem for Brad Cox and Cala Hawk at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston on Saturday, as they photographed “Elizabeth, Viscountess Falkland” by Paul van Somer (1576-1621). Todd Spoth for The New York Times
HOUSTON — They waited patiently in line in 80-degree heat, standing on large blue stickers placed six feet apart, to enter the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston — the first major American art museum to reopen since the country went into lockdown in March. The 20 or so mask-wearing visitors who queued up on Saturday morning had already waited more than two months to visit, so what were a few more minutes? As visitors filed into the air-conditioned foyer, one group at a time, thermal imaging devices checked their temperatures. A green square around the person’s head meant they were in the clear; a red square meant fever. The Museum of Fine Arts is one of the wealthiest cultural institutions in the country, with a $1.3 billion endowment that provides about half of its $67 million annual budget. [More]

  • Visitors required to wear masks
  • Thermal imaging devices checked temperatures of every visitor.
  • Interactive exhibits were turned off
  • Timed tickets to limit entry to 900 guests at a time, each visitor will have a studio apartment’s worth of space to themselves if they space out equally. (If they don’t, the museum guards have been trained to politely ask them to separate.)
  • Procuring safety supplies and equipment:  hand sanitizer from a lubricant manufacturer in North Carolina, which shipped it to Houston in 250-pound drums; 10,000 disposable masks from a warehouse in McAllen, Texas; a dozen thermal imaging devices from Feevr; and disinfecting solution from the germ-fighting experts at the Children’s Museum of Houston.