Originally published on August 24. Updated with new opening information weekly.

A visitor in front of Liberty Leading the People at the Louvre in July. A vision of the future for Seattle-area museums.
A visitor in front of Liberty Leading the People at the Louvre in July. A vision of the future for Seattle-area museums. Pascal Le Segretain / Getty
Though art galleries have been open for more than two months under categorization as "retail," plans to reopen museums got sidelined as our state experienced a rise in cases over the summer. But in the middle of August, Governor Jay Inslee announced a new set of guidelines that will allow museums around the state to reopen in Phase 2—with restrictions. While I am still pondering what it means to go to a museum during a pandemic that is, by all measures, still raging on, it will be interesting to see how museums in the Seattle area will respond to the new rules put in place. A quick refresher of those guidelines if you missed the announcement:
  • You gotta mask up.
  • Museum capacity will be limited to 25 percent with individual rooms also monitored to ensure they are not above 25 percent capacity.
  • All exhibits that allow touching surfaces must put up "No touching" signs or provide a touchless alternative.
  • You must reserve and pay for timed tickets/staggered entry by phone or online to minimize interaction.
  • Galleries must allow one-way traffic flow through the building.
  • There must be regular sanitization and cleaning of facilities and common/highly-touched surfaces, especially restrooms by staff.
  • Museums must provide hand sanitizer for patrons.
  • Signs will discourage group congregation or limit the number of people in a certain area.
  • Food and beverage services must conform to Phase 2 dine-in food service guidelines; gift shops must conform to Phase 2 retail guidelines.
  • No events!

  • Some museums in the area have already laid out reopening plans. Here's what we know so far:

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    NATIONAL NORDIC MUSEUM
    Reopened on Friday, September 4
    The National Nordic Museum reopens on September 4 for your viewing pleasure.
    The National Nordic Museum reopened on September 4 for your viewing pleasure. Courtesy of the National Nordic Museum
    The deets: Like with other museums, you have to buy a timed ticket (good for two hours) prior to entry and there are directional pathways for visitors to follow to minimize interactions. The museum keeps restricted hours—Wednesday through Sunday, 10 am - 5 pm. There is no coat check, but you will be given a "souvenir stylus pen" to use on interactive surfaces without having to share with others.

    What's still up: Gudrun Sjödén–A Colourful Universe (which was originally slated to close in September, but extended to October 18) and Johan Bävman's Swedish Dads will be the two traveling exhibitions hanging for visitors to enjoy upon opening.

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    MUSEUM OF FLIGHT
    Reopened on Saturday, September 5
    The deets: The Museum of Flight has got a lot of space. With more square footage than any other museum on the West Coast, you can breeze in-and-out of their five buildings (which includes an open-air Aviation Pavilion and an outdoor Vietnam Veteran Memorial) without worrying too much about close contact with other visitors. Open Thursday through Monday from 10am to 5pm, patrons are required to wear a face mask and will undergo a contactless health screening. Some galleries and experiences will remain closed, like the simulators, Tower Exhibit, and Flight Zone. Make sure to reserve your timed tickets online first.

    What's still up: They just recently opened a new exhibit called Untold Stories: World War II at 75 that highlights the stories of "lesser-known, diverse people who lived and died during the war years." The exhibition will enhance the museum's gallery of World War II fighter aircraft and artifacts with new videos, objects, and presentations.

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    SEATTLE ART MUSEUM
    Reopened Friday, September 11
    The downtown museum will reopen to the general public on September 11.
    The downtown museum reopened to the general public on September 11. Courtesy of SAM

    The deets: The downtown museum opened to the public in a limited capacity on Friday, September 11. It is initially only open from Fri - Sun, 10 am - 5 pm. Timed tickets are available for reservation and are required in order to get into the museum—so no random popping in to look at art on a boring weekend afternoon! Masks are required and visitors' temperatures will be taken before allowed inside the building. There are "one-way traffic flows" in smaller galleries and everything is scrubbed clean continually. The Seattle Asian Art Museum, PACCAR Pavilion at the Olympic Sculpture Park, and the TASTE Café at SAM will all remain closed for the time being. The SAM gift shop and gallery will stay open.

    What's still up: John Akomfrah: Future History (remember that one!?!) and Georgia O'Keeffe: Abstract Variations were open only to SAM members in the very first week. Two special exhibitions will open later this fall centered around two local art giants: collector Jinny Wright and artist Barbara Earl Thomas.

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    MUSEUM OF POP CULTURE
    Reopened on Friday, September 18
    I know youve been waiting to get inside that steel hull of a museum.
    I know you've been waiting to get inside that steel hull of a museum. Courtesy of MoPop
    The deets: Visitors can visit the museum dedicated to pop culture beginning on September 18—reserve your timed tickets here. Masks and at least six feet of distance are required between guests (duh). Like the other museums in the city, MoPOP is focusing on cleaning high-touch areas like the bathrooms and elevators and implementing touchless hand sanitizers throughout the space. There are electrostatic sprayers in galleries and other high-traffic areas, which look like something the Ghostbusters might use. MoPOP is also reducing their hours to Friday-Sunday, 10 am to 6 pm.

    What's still up: Minecraft: The Exhibition and Body of Work: Tattoo Culture featuring the works of tattoo artists from the Pacific Northwest are both extended until spring 2021. I haven't yet had a chance to see Body of Work. You should go to see Seattle tattoo artist Lolli Morlock's surreal and beautiful pieces, some of which are now in the museum's permanent collection.

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    BURKE MUSEUM
    Reopened on Saturday, September 19
    Ive been wanting to look at some old bones...
    I've been wanting to look at some old bones... Courtesy of Andrew Waits

    The deets: After barely reopening a year ago after some extensive renovations, the Burke Museum re-reopened for members on Saturday, September 19 and for non-members on Tuesday, September 22. You must reserve tickets in advance online as no on-site ticketing is available and you're free to show up at any point during the hour of your reserved slot. Masks are required (they will also provide one if you need it) and hand sanitizer will be made available. Though all interactives and playspaces are closed, the Burke says they've created new displays to fit the pandemic times. They will be open from Tuesday-Sunday, 10am-5pm as will their Off the Rez Café.

    What's still up: The Burke's Amazing Life, Culture is Living, Fossils Uncovered, Northwest Native Art, and Our Material World galleries will be open for you to breeze through.

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    MUSEUM OF GLASS
    Reopened on Friday, September 25
    Look at beautiful glass objects a respectful six feet away from the nearest patron.
    Look at beautiful glass objects a respectful six feet away from the nearest patron. Courtesy of Museum of Glass

    The deets: Like most museums in the region, the Museum of Glass in Tacoma has shortened their hours to Friday-Sunday, 10am-5pm and requires visitors wear masks at all times in the museum. They have limited the hands-on activities in their Education Studio and have put up signs to suggest routes through the museum. MOG also closed seats in the Theater and Hot Shop to encourage physical distancing.

    What's still up: You still have time to enjoy Transparency: An LGBTQ+ Glass Art Exhibition, Alchemy 5: Transformation in Contemporary Enamels, Out of the Vault: Hidden Gems from the Museum of Glass Permanent Collection, and the Theater and Hot Shop.

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    WASHINGTON STATE HISTORY MUSEUM
    Reopened on Tuesday, September 29
    tktktk
    You can now learn about WA state history while maintaining a respectful distance from other visitors. Courtesy of Washington State History Museum
    The deets: The Washington State History Museum is open Tuesday through Sunday, 10am to 5pm, with the first two hours on Tuesdays reserved for ages 65+. They will also have half-price admission through October 23. Visitors are required to wear masks, purchase tickets in advance, and follow one-way gallery paths while maintaining six feet of distance from other groups.

    What's still up: The Great Hall of Washington History and a "pop-up" Northwest Collage Society exhibition are open for visitors to peruse. The museum is planning on opening two new shows—Votes for Women: 100 Years and Counting and Columbia and Cascade: A River and a Range—later in October.

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    BELLEVUE ARTS MUSEUM
    Reopened on Friday, October 2
    Cant wait to see what this weird little suburban museum is going to do next.
    Can't wait to see what this weird little suburban museum is going to do next. Courtesy of the Bellevue Arts Museum
    The deets: The Bellevue Arts Museum officially reopened to the public on October 2, after offering two members-only days on September 26 & 27. You must make reservations (online, in-person, or by phone) for a timed-ticket before arriving and wear a mask as is required by the state. Interestingly, they have also moved to a Pay-What-You-Can Admission model for tickets, whose cost will be underwritten by Overlake Medical Center and Clinics. They adjusted their hours to Friday-Sunday, 11am-5pm. Both coat check and the restrooms are closed.

    What's still up: All levels of the museum reopened with two new exhibitions: the SuperMonster市City-curated America’s Monsters, Superheroes, and Villains and local glass artist Anna Mlasowsky's Never Odd or Even. Mlasowsky won the John and Joyce Price Award of Excellence in BAM's glass biennial in 2018 for her "Chorus of One" sculpture/cloak. It's weird and skeletal and beautiful. I'm excited to see what she's working on for this show.

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    WING LUKE MUSEUM
    Reopened on Wednesday, October 7
    tktktk
    You can sit in this wonderful space soon. Courtesy of Olson Kundig/Wing Luke

    The deets: The Wing Luke Museum in the Chinatown-International District had a "soft opening" on Saturday, October 3 for members, opening on Wednesday, October 7 for the general public. They are requiring masks and physical distancing when in the space, encouraging visitors to buy their tickets before arriving to maintain a contactless experience. Storage and water fountains will be closed, with restrooms also limiting capacity. They've also updated their HVAC for more outside airflow to wick away as much nasty air molecules as possible.

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    What's still up: Hear Us Rise, which opened right before the pandemic hit, highlights Asian Pacific American voices in feminism and will still be up to look at. Check out a full list of ongoing exhibitions here.

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    TACOMA ART MUSEUM
    Reopens on Friday, October 9

    This baby reopens on October 9.
    This baby reopens on October 9. COURTESY OF TAM

    The deets: If you visit the Tacoma Art Museum when it reopens, just know that the air you're breathing is of the PUREST QUALITY as they are implementing "additional air purification technology" in their existing HVAC system. Masks and six feet of space will be required, and they will be reducing their hours down to 10am-5pm, Friday-Sunday. All of their public events will be virtual for the time being.

    What's still up: There's a lot! Peruse them here.

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    FRYE ART MUSEUM
    Reopens on Thursday, October 22 (for members)
    Youll get to see the rotunda of the Frye sometime soon...
    You'll get to see the rotunda of the Frye sometime soon... SKIP HOWARD/COURTESY OF FRYE ART MUSEUM

    The deets: The Frye Art Museum plans on reopening for members-only previews on October 22. They will welcome back the general public on November 5. Once opened, the museum will keep a restricted schedule: Thursday through Sundays, 11am to 5pm. Frye—crucially—will remain free to visit, but they are requiring a ticket for entrance which you can reserve beginning on October 8. There will be no bag or coat check and masks are required (duh). You can also expect to a temperature check and health screening before you mosey your way through the one-way galleries.

    What's still up: Agnieszka Polska's Love Bite, Francesca Lohmann and Rob Rhee's Subspontaneous, and Unsettling Femininity: Selections from the Frye Art Museum Collection.

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    MUSEUM OF MUSEUMS
    ReOpens in November
    The oft-delayed museum will finally open in November.
    The oft-delayed museum will finally open in November. JK
    The deets: After over a year and half of renovations, zoning disputes, and wrestling with the pandemic, the buzzy Museum of Museums is finally set to open in November. Wearing a mask, keeping distance, and not coming to look at art if you're experiencing symptoms all apply here. In an interview with CHS Blog, MoM Director Greg Lundgren says you can officially reserve your tickets starting on November 1.

    What's still up: Brian Sanchez and Neon Saltwater's Energy Drink immersive exhibition; murals by Crystal Barbre and Kristen Ramirez in the Gift Shop and Kitchen respectively; the four-seat Mudede Theater; Jennifer McNeely's miniatures in the Margret Supperfield Museum; an installation that approximates local artist and collector Shaun Kardinal's living room in Shaun Kardinal Art Museum (in the lobby space); The Emergence Room which features art by young artists age 6-16 from around the Pacific Northwest; and much more.

    I'm still corresponding with various museums and will update this list as I hear back.

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