SAN DIEGO (KGTV) — Though some of Balboa Park and its museums have partially reopened, the San Diego Natural History Museum will remain closed until 2021.
"The Nat" is keeping its doors closed for the rest of the year, despite whether public health orders allow the museum to reopen with coronavirus-related restrictions. Officials said the decision to keep the museum closed "was not an easy or obvious decision."
During the five-month closure, museum staff said they will focus on exhibition space projects and programs, including:
- A new "California Blooming" exhibit upon reopening
- Constructing an ADA-compliant ramp on the museum's east entrance
- Developing a new museum cafe and retail store
- Converting a row of staff offices on the fourth floor into a gallery for future exhibits
- Completing a master plan for gardens outside the building
The museum is also reimagining its Canyoneers program to virtual hikes and recommendations and developing more digital options for the community, and students and teachers.
"The museum we closed in March will not be the same museum we reopen," said Judy Gradwohl, president and CEO of The Nat."Our future will combine the best of our work before and during the pandemic in a hybrid model that connects people with the wonder of nature on-site, online, and out in nature."
In the meantime, staff say they plan to stay engaged with the community.
“I look forward to seeing how our creative and energetic staff will make the most of the next five months,” said Gradwohl. “To borrow an analogy from the monarch butterflies I’ve been rearing this summer, I look at this extended closure and our eventual reopening as emerging from a chrysalis, not a hibernation.”
The museum has been able to keep about 100 of its full-time and part-time staff and doesn't expect any changes to those positions. They are currently working remotely, on-site, or in the field around the county. Since closing in March, some staff has been furloughed or laid off.
The museum could reopen on select dates around the holidays if public health orders permit and staff believe it is safe to do so.