State Museum, Clay Center reopen after 4-month Covid-forced closings

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Two of the state’s popular attractions reopened Tuesday to patrons following a four-month pandemic-forced closure.

Both the State Museum at the state Culture Center and the Clay Center for the Arts and Sciences, both located in Charleston, opened their doors for the first time since mid-March.

A special disinfecting pad at the Clay Center in Charleston.

“We love to hear the sound of kids laughing and parents interacting with them and everyone just really having fun while their learning,” Clay Center Vice President of Marketing & Sales Morgan Robinson told MetroNews Tuesday.

The Clay Center’s Discovery Museum, Art Museum and Planetarium all reopened with changes.

“We’re keeping our capacity at only 100 patrons per session and doing two sessions a day Tuesday through Saturday,” Robinson said. “This really gives patrons a lot of room to spread out, make sure they don’t have to worry about physical distancing, that six-feet will be very easy to accomplish from other people at the museum.”

Scheduling a visit and pre-screening are required along with touchless temperature checks before entering the building.

State Museum Director Charles Morris said there was a line outside the museum at the state Capitol Complex when the doors opened at 9 a.m. Tuesday.

“It is extremely exciting to be open. I think it’s almost been four months,” Morris said. “As we opened the doors we had people coming in.”

The museum, which is located in the basement of the Culture Center, is also doing pre-screening and requiring masks be worn in compliance with Gov. Jim Justice’s new mask executive order.

A soda fountain at State Museum

“We’re taking temperatures at the door. We’re asking the questions that are related to the virus. We’re cleaning the museum. We’re following all of the guidelines,” Morris said.

The museum employees were excited to get back to work. Morris said they missed the interaction with the patrons. Morris said he’s often called upstairs to talk with visitors who want to tell him what they liked about the museum.

“They want to talk about the fact that they really feel that this is one of the top museums in the country and they want to tell us that we have one of the most beautiful capitols. You miss that interaction and hearing that,” Morris said.

Cleaning will continue to be priority for both facilities, officials said.

“When guests come in all you have to worry about is having fun. You don’t have to worry about your health and safety. You can leave that up to us and we’re going to be taking care of that for you,” Robinson said.

The Clay Center has been busy rescheduling live performances by various artists. Robinson said they hope those can restart later this year.

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