Your safety is our goal.
Help us make your visit following our reopening this Friday easy with these two easy steps.
- Masks are required for all visitors over the age of 10 throughout our facilities.
- Purchase discounted tickets online first at our online box office. Select “Print at Home” at checkout to receive a printable version of your tickets to your e-mail account. This will allow you to skip any lines at the Box Office and proceed immediately to the museum’s exhibit halls for “low-touch” access.
The Houston Museum of Natural Science has been preparing to re-open since the day we closed, March 17th. Our staff, volunteers and visitors are what make the museum the extraordinary place it is, and their well-being has been the central focus of that planning from the very beginning.
That same day we created a Road to Reopening Task Force, comprised of our senior staff, who in the ensuing weeks developed a comprehensive plan, guided by the recommendations of state, city, and county public health officials, to gradually welcome back staff, and visitors, albeit at greatly reduced capacity.
Using the guidelines recommended by national, state and local agencies/authorities, we now plan to re-open on May 15th. We will carefully and continually monitor the efficacy of these guidelines in real time and make further adjustments as needed.
An inherent risk of exposure to COVID-19 exists in any public place where people are present. COVID-19 is an extremely contagious disease that can lead to severe illness and death. By visiting the Houston Museum of Natural Science, you voluntarily assume all risks related to exposure to COVID-19.
The following are some of the measures we are implementing:
Crowd Limitations & Social Distancing Practices
- To allow for proper social distancing, we will be operating at 25% capacity or less, and staff will be monitoring the number of visitors in and out of our smaller galleries and other public spaces.
- Dedicated, separate entrances and exits will be clearly marked for each purpose and staff will be on hand to facilitate and monitor the process. If you park in the museum’s garage, you will be asked to walk outside and re-enter the facility through the main entrance doors.
- We will adjust the flow of visitors through timed tickets, pre-reserved entry and exit times. If you arrive at the museum or a venue, like the Cockrell Butterfly Center, and we are at capacity, our staff members will ask you to wait until some visitors exit. This is to ensure we operate at no more than 25% capacity for the health of our staff members and visitors.
- We will require face masks and gloves for all staff who engage with the public; spacing workstations to allow for social distancing and allowing support staff to continue work from home.
- We recommend that you buy tickets online and in advance for a “low touch” entry. (See below for more on advanced ticket purchasing.) However, the box office will also be open to assist with printing tickets. Please send one member of your party through the line and observe social distancing; decals on the floor will indicate proper spacing.
Skip the Lines
- We strongly urge advance online purchase of “print at home” tickets to create possible, “touch-free” or “low-touch” entry to the Museum.
- If you are unable to print your tickets at home, they may be scanned directly from your phone.
- If you selected will call, please have your Will Call # available when you arrive. Tickets can be printed at kiosks just inside the main entrance. Kiosks are disinfected frequently throughout the day.
- We are requiring the use of face masks for all staff members as well as all visitors over the age of 10.
- We have installed plexiglass screens at visitor, information, and sales desks to serve as an additional barrier between employees and visitors.
- Floor decals will indicate 6-foot spacing at the box office and museum store checkout.
Sanitation and Cleaning Procedures
- We are installing more hand sanitizing stations and instituting heightened cleaning protocols, including frequent environmental cleaning and disinfection of “high-touch” door handles, elevators, and restrooms.
- We are implementing cleanliness “patrols” in all exhibition galleries and other public areas that will be disinfecting high touch areas throughout the day and checking that all soap and sanitizer dispensers are full.
Exhibit and Program Modifications
- Hands-on exhibition components and other “high touch” experiences will remain closed, including theatre experiences in the Wiess Energy Hall, docent touch carts and more.
- Interactive touchscreens and exhibit components will be turned off or made inaccessible.
- The Burke Baker Planetarium, Wortham Giant Screen Theatre and our satellite locations (HMNS at Sugar Land and the George Observatory in Fort Bend) will remain closed at this time. Opening dates to be determined at a later date.
- We are canceling lectures and all other public programs through at least May 21.
- We will be instituting curbside pick-up from the Museum Store.
Staff Training Procedures
- All staff members have gone through required training sessions to understand and implement these modified procedures and sanitation practices to ensure the health of both staff members and visitors.
- We will provide face masks and gloves for all staff who engage with the public; spacing workstations to allow for social distancing and allowing support staff to continue working from home.
- The temperature of all employees will be measured before entering the museum; any employees exhibiting a temperature over 100 will be sent home. Upon entering the building, employees must wash or sanitize their hands.
- Staff travel outside the Greater Houston region has been suspended since mid-March.
Museums are essential to our culture and we are committed to continuing to serve our mission of providing a world class museum experience for the Houston community. The Museum will continue to expand digital engagement opportunities for those who may not yet feel comfortable returning. At the same time, our staff will continue working non-stop to develop additional protocols and provide additional support and supplies as needed for those who do.
While we don’t know when the rest of the world will re-open, in the meantime rest assured that you can come here… and go anywhere.
We hope to see you soon.
Joel A. Bartsch, HMNS President & CEO
For further information:
Melodie Wade, Sr. Vice President, Public Relations & Digital Media
Latha Thomas, Sr. Vice President, Marketing & Retail