When the Long Island Children’s Museum reopens on Sept. 5, modifications will be in place but “most of the fun stuff is there,” according to museum staff.
Families still can visit the uber-popular Bubbles gallery, for instance — “which we know is everybody’s favorite,” says Maureen Mangan, director of communications and marketing. But the procedure will be different. “When you enter, you’ll be handed your own wand. When you come out, it gets disinfected and someone else gets a wand,” Mangan says.
The Tot Spot early childhood gallery for children up to age 4 will be open but with some items removed. “We’ve taken out the books because they are harder to clean, and we’ve taken out the fabric costumes,” Mangan says. And upstairs in the KEVA building blocks area, which used to have 10,000 shared wooden blocks, families will now be directed to designated individual areas. “Everybody gets their own basket of blocks to play with and enjoy,” Mangan says.
The museum opening is important for the community, says Suzanne LeBlanc, museum president. “Kids have missed school; kids have missed their friends; kids and families have missed going to places,” she says. The museum will continue to offer virtual programming in addition to reopening. “We’ll be a hybrid, like everybody else.”
SOME GALLERIES CLOSED
Some building galleries will be closed for the time being; for instance, the enormous Climb-It and the indoor Sandy Island underneath the Climb-It will be off limits because they are harder to continually clean and to ensure children remain separated, Mangan says. The theater will be closed, and the museum will use this time to renovate it with new carpeting and seats and updated audio equipment, Mangan says. Some tables have been removed from the cafeteria to provide more opportunity for social distancing and outdoor picnic tables have been added. Water fountains are blocked, but water bottles will be for sale in vending machines, Mangan says. Signage will instruct visitors on moving in one direction throughout the museum, she says.
The museum will be open at 25% capacity and families will have to sign up in advance at licm.org to ensure timed entry. Visitors will receive an e-ticket to allow for contactless admission. The usual museum capacity is 1,300, so it will be limited to 325 people at one time, LeBlanc says. “It sounds like a lot, but if you spread them out throughout our 40,000 square feet, it almost feels like there’s nobody in the museum,” she says.
While the museum officially opens on Sept. 5, members will be able to visit on Sept. 3 and 4, and the first hour of every day from then on will be reserved for members only as well, Mangan says. Hours will be reduced to 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Thursdays through Sundays. Temperatures will be taken on arrival and masks will be required for everyone older than 2 at all times indoors and outside.
INVESTMENT IN DISINFECTION
Mangan says she does not expect there will be any school field trips to the museum this fall. “We have heard from schools; most districts are having no trips through the end of the year,” she says.
The museum has spent about $50,000 to adapt to the coronavirus, including purchasing Plexiglas for the admission desk, electrostatic spray cleaners and upgrades to medical-grade air filters for the heating and air conditioning system. Hand sanitizer will be available throughout the museum and cleanings of galleries will be frequent, Mangan says. “We might close a gallery down for 10 minutes, go in with an electrostatic cleaner, spray everything down and reopen it,” Mangan says. “I think visitors will see how much cleaning is going on.”
The Children’s Museum is at 11 Davis Ave. in Garden City. Admission is $14 per person; for more information call 516-224-5800 or visit licm.org.