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St. Louis Cultural Institutions Prepare To Welcome Back Visitors

A visitor looks at pieces on display at the St. Louis Art Museum's 'The Shape of Abstraction: Selections from the Ollie Collection' exhibit. Oct. 9, 2019
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio
A visitor looks at pieces on display at the St. Louis Art Museum's 'The Shape of Abstraction: Selections from the Ollie Collection' exhibit.

St. Louis museum and zoo lovers can start planning visits once again.

The Metropolitan Zoological Park and Museum District confirmed Tuesday that all of its member organizations are in the process of reopening. The district includes the region’s largest cultural institutions such as the St. Louis Art Museum, Zoo and Science Center.

The coronavirus pandemic had shut down museum and zoo operations since March.

Places like the Missouri Botanical Garden and Missouri History Museum are major tourist attractions for the city. In 2017, all member organizations attracted over 2.5 million out-of-town visitors, according to a St. Louis Regional Chamber report.

But this summer is going to look different. 

People can no longer buy tickets on the day they want to visit, as most institutions are selling tickets for a specific time slot, which must be purchased in advance. Masks are required for guests older than 9 at every institution. 

Attendance will also be limited to 10% capacity for some places. For the St. Louis Art Museum, that means only 350 people will be allowed in at any one time. To maintain social distancing, walking paths will be altered to one-ways, and high-traffic areas will be cleaned more frequently.

All of ZMD’s cultural institutions will reopen over the next two weeks. 

ZMD Executive Director Patrick Dougherty said each one prepared its own plan for reopening. 

“It does appear that each of the institutions is very concerned about social distancing … so they are very responsible regarding the COVID-19 issues,” he said in a board meeting.

Cultural organizations receive funding from both St. Louis and St. Louis County taxpayers through ZMD and have a large economic impact on the region. Combined, all members of ZMD, generate a half-billion dollars annually, according to the St. Louis Regional Chamber report.

Here’s a look at how, and when, each organization is reopening.

June 13

  • St. Louis Zoo: The zoo has kept its usual daily hours but is limiting capacity. Tickets are free and can be reserved here. For now, the zoo is not accepting cash. The Children’s Zoo and indoor exhibits are closed.

June 16

  • Missouri Botanical Garden: The garden, including Shaw Nature Reserve and Sophia M. Sachs Butterfly House, will reopen June 16. Tickets need to be purchased in advance. The garden is closed Mondays for now. All indoor spaces, the Children’s Garden and water play areas are closed.
  • St. Louis Art Museum: The Museum Cafe and Panorama restaurant will remain closed. Tours and in-person programming is suspended until September. Tickets need to be purchased in advance.

June 20

  • Missouri History Museum: All locations of the Missouri Historical Society, including the Soldiers Memorial Military Museum and the Library and Research Center, will reopen June 20. Capacity will be limited at all locations to 10%, and hours have been reduced.
  • St. Louis Science Center: The building is limiting capacity to 10% and reducing hours, so ticket reservations are required ahead of time. 

Follow Kayla on Twitter: @_kayladrake

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