State art and history museums would seem to be an easy bet for a brisk reopening as the COVID-19 crisis wanes. The exhibits are usually no-touch, there typically aren’t large crowds in one place and it’s not exactly a ballgame where fans yell and high-five within a foot of each other.

But there are other factors that may push Connecticut museums to delay beyond the state government’s planned June 20 start of phase two that includes indoor museum spaces — staff numbers and training, university plans, renovations and summer downtime at various museums.

Waterbury’s Mattatuck Museum has laid out the most detailed plan for reopening on June 22 (if the governor confirms the plan) — including a roadmap for other museums to consider.

Director Bob Burns echoed what other museum officials are saying about the tentative date for reopening: “We will also determine in advance if we feel fully prepared to open on that date. We may decide to delay for a week or two; it will all depend what’s happening in Waterbury, CT, on-site and with our staff.”

Mattatuck’s tight plan is influenced by the fact that the museum’s main site at 144 W. Main St. (on the Waterbury Green) is closed for an $8 million renovation of the building, a former Masonic Temple where Mattatuck Museum moved in 1987. The temporary location at Rose Hill, a historic house on Prospect Street up the hill from the West Main site, requires some precise protocols for safety during this pandemic year.

Burns said although the house location is bigger than his own home, it is significantly smaller than the West Main Street location, with limited exhibit space on the first floor of the mansion. “The hallways are very tight and there are a couple dead ends.”

He said his first concern is for the health and safety of staff. “Those that are able will continue working from home for the near term (some curatorial, development, and administrative staff). Those that come in will be provided with hand sanitizer, vinyl gloves and a cloth mask. ... We will practice social distancing, stagger arrival/departure times and lunch hours. We will continue to hold all meetings via Zoom — even if all participants are in the building.”

For visitors, the plan is for up to 10 people (wearing masks) to reserve and prepay for admission at one entry time. “Names and contact information (cell or email) for each participant in the group must also be provided at that time for the contact log. They will be instructed to leave all personal items locked in their car(s).”

Other requirements: a maximum of 45 minutes for the group on the first floor of the museum. Entry will be at the access ramp and departure will be through the door leading to the parking lot. There’s a first-floor restroom, which will be cleaned by maintenance staff after each use. After a group departs, all spaces and surfaces will be sanitized before a new group enters 15 minutes later.

Burns said it’s a “living” plan that will change with time and as needed.

On May 29, New Haven Museum Executive Director Margaret Anne Tockarshewsky said in response to questions, “We are watching how Phase 1 unfolds in the state and will see what we can learn from our colleagues at outdoor cultural institutions. We are delighted that the governor included all museums in Phase 2 and offered June 20 as the approximate opening date.”

But Tockarshewsky said the Whitney Avenue museum won’t be reopening to the public June 20. Instead, “it gives us a date to work toward to return to our offices. It is important that staff feel safe in their work environment as they relearn how to navigate shared spaces in our museum building. Then we can work on the protocols necessary to ensure the safety and well-being of our visitors per CDC and state guidelines.”

New Haven Museum has one other situation that makes its reopening on Whitney Avenue less date-sensitive. Its summer programming shifts to the historic Pardee-Morris House in the Morris Cove section of New Haven.

“With almost an acre, large lawn areas and a small herb garden, we have a wonderful outdoor location to open and offer to visitors first. Our education staff is exploring summer programming and we hope to welcome the public back to Pardee-Morris House sometime in July, if it is safe to do so.”

In Hartford, Michael Dudich, deputy director of the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art, said via email, “We anticipate reopening the museum proper sometime later this summer.” Amid phase one restrictions, Dudich said the museum has embraced outdoor art, “launching a community-centered initiative called ‘Sculpture in the City,’ inviting visitors to experience the great art and architecture in Hartford, on the grounds of the museum and beyond. Direct viewing at the Wadsworth combines with online digital assets that feature our collection as well as information from our partner organizations.”

Yale’s pair of top art galleries were noncommital on reopening later this month, saying it’s up to Yale, city and state officials.

Heather Nolin of Yale University Art Gallery said the gallery will follow the universty’s restart plans, “which are based on CT state guidelines for academic campuses, not for museums.”

Gallery Director Stephanie Wiles echoed that and said, “At this time, we are unable to give you a specific date but will make sure that when we are cleared to welcome the public back to the art gallery in person, we let our audiences know promptly.”

Nolin said the way forward should be clearer by July 10, when President Peter Salovey will have communicated his decision about students returning to campus in fall.

The Yale Center of British Art responded by saying, “As we look ahead to our reopening, we are continuing to plan future exhibitions and programs, as well as develop protocols and procedures, including sanitation and social distancing measures, so that the center can safely welcome back staff and visitors. For now, we have a vibrant program of activities, events, and exhibitions available on our website.”

Wiles also referred the public to online offerings at online at artgallery.yale.edu and to sign up for the weekly newsletter.

Connecticut Media Group