Children—not members, not the public—will be the first visitors when the High Museum in Atlanta reopens on June 8. They'll be coming to participate in its summer art camps, which lets children from the first to the eight grades explore the galleries and create their own art. "They'll take over the entire museum," said Rand Suffolk, the museum's director, for an entire month.
The High closed its doors because of the coronavirus pandemic on Mar. 12, and Mr. Suffolk said this strategy will help parents in Atlanta who have been both working at home and caring for their children. In calls made by museum staff—the High never furloughed or terminated any employees, but did redirect some efforts to calling members—"we knew there was a real need" for the camps, Mr. Suffolk said.
The High normally accommodates 750 children over the course of the summer, and expects a similar number this year (registration remains open and cancellations have been few). To enhance safety, the children will be placed in groups of ten, each with its own supplies, and be supervised by two adults. Parents will drop them off without leaving their cars. In general, the High will follow the guidelines of the Centers for Disease Control and other organizations.
The camps run into August, but the kids will get company on July 7, when the museum opens to members, front-line and health care workers and teachers—with free entry. On July 18, the High will open to the public, but at a reduced level, still to be determined. Like other museums, the High will be cleaning its premises frequently, requiring staff that interacts with the public to wear masks, placing hand sanitizer around the museum, selling timed tickets, limiting the number of people in elevators and encouraging cashless transactions. Mr. Suffolk said that they have not yet decided whether to require the public to wear masks, but will be learning from what happens at Atlanta institutions that open earlier.
For the fiscal year that began June 1, the High has budgeted "zero earned income," Mr. Suffolk said. "We have no set expectations for the number of people who will come through the door. We realize that we will have to recalibrate our metrics of success."