Closed since March 16, the Roger Tory Peterson Institute will reopen its museum on Saturday, July 18.
“My first official act,” says Arthur Pearson, “on my first day as the new CEO of the Institute, was to close the museum to the public. It will be a relief and a joy to reopen our doors and welcome back our many friends and supporters.”
Technically, the museum could have reopened June 30 – that’s the day Governor Cuomo announced Phase IV reopening for Western New York. However, RTPI has taken extra time to ensure the health and safety of staff and visitors.
“Health and safety is our number one priority,” Pearson states, referring to the detailed Reopening Plan he and his staff have developed in accordance with guidelines provided by the CDC, the State of New York and the American Alliance of Museums, among others. The plan lays out enhanced measures for minimizing risk while still providing for an engaging museum experience.
Initially, the total number of visitors allowed in the museum will be limited to one-third capacity to ensure everyone can maintain required social distancing. There will be signs posted limiting the number of people allowed per gallery. All visitors will be required to wear masks at all times – and to wear them “right.” Pearson and his staff have developed information signage that reminds visitors to wear masks over mouth and nose, using Roger Tory Peterson’s famous field guide art to demonstrate.
“Peterson was a great artist,” Pearson explains. “He also was a great teacher. We’re repurposing his iconic bird images throughout the museum to inform and instruct our visitors how to be safe while visiting us.”
Pearson hopes visitors will notice other things about the museum, as well. “Being closed for four months was a huge strain, financially,” Pearson says. “But it also gave us time to rethink and retool a few things.”
As one example, RTPI conducted an analysis of museum sales over the past three years, leading to a complete refresh of its museum store. “Everything came off the shelves,” says Jane Johnson, Director of Museum Operations. “We restocked with new and priority items that better celebrate Roger’s legacy at the intersection of art and nature. We even adopted a new name: The Snowy Owl Museum Store.”
Emphasizing health and safety first, Pearson plans to roll out a schedule of programs and events to complement the refreshed and reopened museum. “Our museum extends outdoors, as well, where we plan to host regular bird walks in our preserve and yoga classes on the back patio. We installed a picnic area in view of our new pollinator meadow, and café tables in our outdoor courtyard – to encourage visitors to spend time with us – safely – surrounded by the beauty of nature, architecture and art.