Several of Charlotte’s museums are reopened, here’s how they will operate

 By Charlie Leonard

September 21, 2020 (updated)

After remaining closed since early March, multiple Charlotte-area museums are beginning to reopen under North Carolina’s Phase 2.5 guidelines. Governor Roy Cooper’s order, which took effect on September 4, allows museums to resume operation starting at 50% capacity. 

Notable museums that have already reopened include the North Carolina Museum of Art and the North Carolina Museum of History in Raleigh, the International Civil Rights Center and Museum in Greensboro, and the Cameron Art Museum in Wilmington. 

Many more Charlotte area museums are soon to be included on that list. Here are several that have recently reopened or are set to reopen soon, with information on what precautions each one will take.

The Mint Museum

The Mint Museum’s Uptown and Randolph locations will be reopening on the weekend of September 25 with free admission and live music featuring JazzArts Charlotte (Sept. 25 & 26) and Mike Strauss Band (Sept. 27). You can reserve your tickets for the reopening weekend here.

Guests will be required to wear masks and social distance in compliance with CDC Guidelines. Signage will be posted throughout the museum to reinforce these practices. Unique to the Mint Museum’s collection, the signage features Queen Charlotte– painted by Allan Ramsay and on display in the Randolph location– carrying a six-foot scepter with the Charlotte crown affixed on top telling patrons to keep the appropriate distance.

‘Foragers,’ a colorful four story tall window installation at Mint Museum Uptown.

New exhibits debuting at the Uptown location include Foragers, a colorful four-story-tall window installation; New Days, New Works, a showcase of 80 works of art from the Mint’s permanent collection; a collection of works by de´Angelo Dia in the “Constellation CLT” series; and Tune In, a 4,000-pound multidimensional diorama, on view on the plaza. The Lewis Family Gallery at the Uptown location will remain closed due to a high amount of touchable surfaces in the space. 

At the Randolph location, you can view Classic Black: The Basalt Sculpture of Wedgwood and His Contemporaries, an exhibition featuring 100 black basalt sculptures and Interventions, a new project showcasing work from Julio Gonzales.

Tickets will be sold in multiple time slots and rates start at $15 for adults, $10 for college students and seniors (65+), $6 for kids (5-17), and free for kids 4 and under. 

For more information, visit mintmuseum.org.

Discovery Place

The three Discovery Place museums in the Charlotte area will reopen to the public on September 23 (Discovery Place Kids in Huntersville), and September 26 (Discovery Place Science in Uptown and Discovery Place Nature in Freedom Park). Discovery Place Science and Discovery Place Nature will be open Saturdays and Sundays from 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. while Discovery Place Kids will be open Wednesday through Sunday under the same hours. Each location will reopen at a reduced capacity.

Discovery Place Science in Uptown

Guests and employees will be required to wear masks and consent to a contactless temperature check and health screen before entry. Directional signage and sanitizer stations have been placed around each museum location to maintain social distancing and cleanliness guidelines. Employees will be cleaning all the exhibits thoroughly, with some remaining closed on a rotating basis to undergo the cleaning process.

Each location will have timed ticketing with a one-hour long arrival window. Upon arrival, you are allowed to stay as long as you’d like. 

Tickets and additional information can be found at discoveryplace.org

Harvey B. Gantt Center for African American Arts and Culture

The Harvey B. Gantt Center will reopen October 1. The center will be open on Thursdays and Fridays from 12 p.m. to 6 p.m., Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., and Sundays from 12 p.m. to 6 p.m. The hours will be extended from 12 p.m. to 8 p.m. Friday, October 2, November 6, and December 4.

Guests and staff are required to wear masks for entry inside. Staff members will undergo daily temperature checks and the center has installed physical distancing signage on the floors and sneeze guards at check-in points.

‘Inter | Sectionality: Diaspora Art from the Creole City’

Debuting October 1 is Inter | Sectionality: Diaspora Art from the Creole City, a showcase of the work of artists that represent a broad spectrum of the African Diaspora. The exhibition features 25 Miami based artists, 17 countries, and two Charlotte-based artists: Monique Luck and Stephanie J. Woods.

Tickets start at $9 for adults, $7 for college students, military, educators, seniors, and youth (6-17), and free for youth ages 5 and under.

For more information, visit ganttcenter.org

Bechtler Museum of Modern Art

The Bechtler Museum of Modern Art in Uptown Charlotte will be reopening on September 25 at 10 a.m. with free admission during opening weekend. The Museum will be debuting a new exhibit titled 1 Cent Life, which features the work of Chinese-American visual artist and poet, Walasse Ting.

‘1 Cent Life’ features the work of Chinese-American visual artist and poet, Walasse Ting.

For guests, wearing a mask and maintaining six feet of social distance are required during the entire visit. Disposable masks will be provided at the front desk if you don’t have one with you. In addition, proper hand-washing and utilization of sanitization stations are suggested before and after touching surfaces.

Staff will check in guests and provide interaction with as minimal contact is possible. In addition, museum employees will be cleaning high-touch and -traffic areas frequently throughout the entire building. To maintain the social distancing guidelines, interactive sections of the museum and gallery are closed, while other areas will operate at a reduced capacity. 

Hours of Operation going forward are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday and 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. on Sunday. Tickets start at $9 for adults, $7 for seniors (65+), college students (school ID required) and educators, and $5 for kids (11-18). Children 10 and under as well as active duty/retired military personnel and their families get in free.

For up-to-date info on events and reopening, visit bechtler.org

Levine Museum of the New South

The Levine Museum of the New South reopened to the general public on September 19 with new hours Friday through Monday. On Fridays and Mondays, the museum will operate from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. (with a 9 a.m. to 10 a.m. special hour for seniors and at-risk guests), and Sunday from 12 p.m. to 5 p.m.

The Levine Museum of the New South reopened to the general public on September 19 with new hours Friday through Monday.

For guests, masks and social distancing is required for entry. Upon entering, guests will be asked to choose between starting their tour upstairs or downstairs to stagger guests and maintain the distancing guidelines. Signage, digital messaging, and a printed gallery guide clearly communicate the new guidelines visitors must follow. Additionally, hand sanitizer stations are available inside to maintain healthy practices. Any visitors who are ill are asked to leave the museum and return at a later date.

Employees are to receive daily health screenings and will clean all high-contact surfaces multiple times a day. Internal doors to exhibits will remain open to increase the airflow inside and some of the high-touch areas in the main exhibit area have been removed for the time being.

Timed ticket sessions are now available and visitors are encouraged to purchase in advance. Each session has a limited number of tickets available to comply with capacity restrictions. Tickets start at $10 for adults, $8 for seniors (62+), $6 for kids (6-18), and free for ages 5 and under. 

For more info, visit museumofthenewsouth.org

Schiele Museum of Natural History

Down I-85 in Gastonia, the Schiele Museum of Natural History recently reopened to the public on September 11. Under new COVID-19 operating procedures, there are a few notable changes that will impact the guest experience. Some high-touch areas may remain closed for the time being, which includes the museum store and the planetarium. Sanitation stations have been placed throughout the building and posted signage reinforces social distancing guidelines.

Guests of the museum are required to wear a mask and maintain an appropriate distance apart from others. Museum staff is on hand to guide guests around the museum and assist in the social distancing process. In addition, the staff is required to undergo temperature checks and wear personal protective equipment, while thoroughly sanitizing the facility on a regular basis.

Schiele Museum of Natural History in Gastonia reopened to the public on September 11.

Capacity has been capped at 150 patrons at a time broken up into three timed ticket periods: 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and 12:30 p.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Friday, and 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. on Sundays. All visitors must purchase tickets in advance, and they may be purchased here. Rates start at $7 for non-member adults and $6 for kids ages (3-17) ($2 off each if you’re a Gastonia resident). Kids two years old and under get in free.

For more info, visit schielemuseum.org

NASCAR Hall of Fame

The NASCAR Hall of Fame in Uptown Charlotte opened on September 16 under enhanced health and safety protocols. Operating hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesday through Monday, with Tuesdays reserved for private groups and special events.

In accordance with state and local guidelines, guests are required to wear face coverings during their visit. Each guest will receive a complimentary stylus to accommodate no-touch interactions with touchscreen exhibits inside. Sanitization stations will also be spread throughout the building and hands-free foot claw door openers have been installed in the bathrooms.

The NASCAR Hall of Fame in Uptown Charlotte opened on September 16 at 50 percent capacity.

Staff members have been trained in the implementation and enforcement of the new procedures. Just like guests, the staff is required to wear face coverings and will be thoroughly cleaning the facility. Some of the cleaning measures include disinfecting high-touch areas, checking soap and sanitizer levels frequently, and sanitizing interactive displays.

During this initial reopening, the High Octane Theatre will remain closed until further notice. Other exhibits, like the driving simulators and the NASCAR Pit Challenge, will have caps on the number of guests allowed at a time. The Hall will also be offering free online and project-based learning experiences called Spark! Online Education, which can be done at home.

Tickets can be purchased online and start at $25 for adults, $22 for seniors (65+), and $18 for youth (4-12).

For more information, visit nascarhall.com

Charlotte Museum of History

The Charlotte Museum of History on Shamrock Rd. reopened September 19 for a special one-day-only “Afternoon on the Grounds” outdoor experience. The reopening featured a self-guided tour around the eight-acre site, which includes the oldest home site in Charlotte (The 1774 Alexander Rock House)

Update: The museum has started their first stage of reopening to the public, starting with the 1774 Alexander Homesite grounds one Saturday a month. Tickets are now available for October 24, 2020, “An Afternoon on the Grounds” experience.

The 1774 Alexander Rock House

For up-to-date info, visit charlottemuseum.org

*We’ll be updating this article as more information is made available

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