COVID-19: Some Montclair cultural institutions choose to wait to reopen past July 2
By ERIN ROLL
Although museums, libraries and cultural institutions have been given permission to start reopening today, July 2, at 25 percent capacity, Montclair’s institutions will be waiting before opening to the public.
Montclair Public Library
The Montclair Public Library began offering curbside pickup and book return on June 22, but the physical building remains closed at the moment, as library officials continue to work on the logistics of how it will operate.
“We’re still trying to figure out how we can offer services at the library,” Library Director Peter Coyl said.
Curbside pick up will continue for at least a few more weeks, Coyl said. Patrons can reserve a book online and then visit the library to pick it up at a designated time and date.
Quarantining items that are returned is one logistical factor the staff is still working on.
Another challenge is how to ensure patrons remain safe while browsing - for example, if they take a book off the shelf and then put it back.
Usage of the library’s computers is also an issue, as library staff will have to determine how far apart computers will have to be spaced, as well as how to clean and sanitize computer keyboards and mice in between uses.
“Really, it’s about safety. That’s the first priority we have, to keep everyone safe and healthy,” Coyl said. “It’s a big task to try and take everything we did prior to the pandemic, and try to do it with the restrictions.”
Montclair Art Museum
The Montclair Art Museum’s reopening has been pushed to Sept. 12, said Interim Director Ira Wagner.
“I think we want to make sure everything is well in place, so we’re able to do it with a well thought-out plan,” Wagner said.
The museum is looking at steps such as one-way walking routes throughout the museum galleries, and restrooms reconfigured to have as many touchless surfaces as possible.
Wagner said that live docent-led tours will not resume for some time.
Montclair History Center
The Montclair History Center will not open its physical museum until fall, but plan to begin some outdoor programming including an Herb Workshop on July 14 and Coneflower Workshop on June 30.
“As the state reopens, we will continue to offer online programs and we will begin to offer a few programs outdoors. Our office will reopen with staggered hours and safety precautions in place. Please continue to be patient with our response times. Our museum will remain closed to the public until September,” according to an announcement on its website.
However, that decision has much to do with hot summer weather as well as COVID-19.
“It’s really two-fold. First, we are not climate controlled,” Executive Director Jane Eliasof said.
Also, the history center usually closes down in August anyway and it didn’t make sense to reopen in July, only to close right back down again the following month, Eliasof said.
“We just felt, let’s err on the side of caution,” she said.
The center has been offering online courses over the course of the shutdown, including the History Happy Hour beverage class, have been popular, she said.
In addition, the center canceled the Farm Camp for children this summer.
“We just didn’t feel confident enough that we could have a safe environment,” Eliasof said. “We just felt it was the best response for us.”
Staff have started coming back into the office, on a staggered schedule, and the bathroom has been stocked with extra cleaning supplies so people can wipe down sink handles and other surfaces after use.