Some of Monterey County’s largest museums are opening their doors to in-person experiences once again and enhanced public safety measures are the name of the game. Visitors to institutions like the Pacific Grove Museum of Natural History or the Monterey Bay Aquarium can expect limited hours of operation, mandatory reservations, timed entries, required masks and social distancing.
The most obvious safety measure will be limited capacity with most museums only allowing 50 percent. In other words, temper your expectations of what “normal” visit will look like. Here’s what you can expect at some of the most anticipated museum reopenings in the county:
Pacific Grove Museum of Natural History, located at 165 Forest Ave., Pacific Grove, opened in April 9. The museum is operating at 25-percent capacity and will blend in-person experiences with digital museum offerings. The museum is open to the public Friday-Monday from 10am-4pm.
They have introduced a new ticketing reservation system to purchase tickets (with timed entry) in advance. Walk-ins will be welcome as long as there is available capacity. Other measures include some redesigning of interactive exhibits, closing down some visitor services like coat and bag check and an upgraded ventilation system. Schedule your visit here.
The Monterey Bay Aquarium (886 Cannery Row, Monterey) has been shut down to the public since March 13, 2020. It reopened yesterday, May 1, for members only and will remain limited to members for two weeks. It will open to the general public beginning May 15. Both members and nonmembers reserve a time to visit along with their ticket purchase. Hours for members are 10am–5pm (with last entry time 3:30pm) Mondays, Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays. Nonmembers can reserve from 10:30am-5pm (with last entry time at 3:30pm) Mondays, Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays starting on May 15. (Tickets for nonmembers go on sale starting May 5.)
All visitors must abide by the one-way walk through the Aquarium exhibits, with no re-entries permitted. Face coverings are required and don’t include neck gaiters, scarves, bandanas or face shields. Additionally, sanitizing stations will be available throughout the museum. Other activities like dining or shopping will look different too. Hungry visitors can reserve table and order and pay from their phone. Souvenir shoppers are encouraged to shop in advance and pick up their order on the day of their visit. The Aquarium will operate at a 50-percent capacity. Find more information here.
The Steinbeck Center (1 Main St., Salinas) will resume indoor operations to the public at 50-percent capacity as well, beginning on May 6. Tickets must be pre-purchased online, and visitors must bring their digital or printed receipts upon arrival. All visitors over the age of 3, regardless of their vaccination status, must wear a mask. Staff will also be masked. New plexiglass partitions are now installed at the visitor’s service desk and hand sanitizer stations will be located throughout the museum.
A two-hour visit is recommended for a self-guided tour, after a quick introduction from a museum docent. The museum will be open Thursdays-Saturdays from 11am-3pm. Find out more information here.
Similar to the Aquarium, Monterey Museum of Art, located at 559 Pacific St., Monterey, will first open its doors to its members and will operate at a 50-percent capacity. Some walk-in reservations will be available, although you can secure admission by pre-registering.
All visitors will be required to take a quick health screening before entering, and masks are required for all visitors. The museum will make gloves and masks available for visitors upon requests and hand sanitizer will be made available throughout the museum. Those who demonstrate signs of illness or refuse to comply with health protocols can be denied entry.
MMA will open to members on May 13 and then the general public on May 20. Hours are now Thursday-Saturday from 11am-5pm. Time slots will be limited to 45 minutes (to allow for adequate cleaning in between groups) and 10 people at a time. Find detailed information here.