Milwaukee museums make reopening plans after city relaxes restrictions

NOW: Milwaukee museums make reopening plans after city relaxes restrictions

MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- Milwaukee's relaxed restrictions on public gatherings went into effect on Friday, Feb. 5, allowing more people to gather in event spaces, entertainment venues and museums.

"(This) is going to allow for some performances to take place, museums to open back up, and for events and some meetings to start to take place again," said Peggy Williams-Smith, president and CEO of VISIT Milwaukee.

The health department's revised 4.4 health order allows for limited reopening of museums.

The Jewish Museum Milwaukee was open from August through December. Executive Director Patti Sherman-Cisler said the museum closed due to rising case numbers. They have decided to reopen on Feb. 19 to coincide with a new Holocaust exhibit.

"Now that the cases have plummeted, we felt it was safe to reopen," Sherman-Cisler said.

She said they've been able to reach thousands of people virtually, and it will be nice to welcome them back to the museum in person. They implemented many safety procedures, such as one-way routes through exhibits, plexiglass and hand sanitizer.

Milwaukee's new health order allows the Jewish Museum Milwaukee to have 26 guests inside instead of the 10 guests they could have under the previous health order.

"That will certainly offer us some more flexibility in getting people in," Sherman-Cisler said.

The order allows for indoor gatherings of 25 percent capacity or up to 250 people. Sherman-Cisler said it will be even more helpful for larger museums.

The Milwaukee Art Museum and Milwaukee Public Museum sent CBS 58 a statement saying:

"We're pleased to see the new health order and are studying its impact on our operations while working with the Health Department on a reopening plan that would allow us to resume operations soon. Exact dates and nature of that reopening are still to be determined."

A spokesperson for the Mitchell Park Domes said in an email the new health order "won't change our operations much."

The Domes have been open with limited capacity since September, according to the spokesperson. Visitors have to book timeslots to visit in advance, which allows the Domes to restrict the number of visitors and meet their COVID-19 safety plan standards.

"I'm sure we'll start to begin to hear some museums opening up," Williams-Smith said.

Williams-Smith said it may take some time for museums to bring staff back in and come up with safety plans, but it will be worth it.

"Because the temperatures are so low right now, museums are the perfect indoor activity for locals and visitors alike. So these important cultural institutions can begin to collect some much needed admission revenue again after so many months with little or no admissions revenue," she said.

She said for people who want to see their favorite museums open up and performances start up again, the best way to make that happen is to get vaccinated once it's their turn.

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