Children’s Museum of Richmond reopens with new COVID-19 guidelines: ‘It was a long and difficult 6 months’

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RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — The Children’s Museum of Richmond is now open to the public for the first time since the start of the Coronavirus pandemic. The Chesterfield and Downtown locations are open with an entirely new design and reimagined concept.

The museum closed on March 14th. Due to a financial strain, the Short Pump and Fredericksburg locations had to permanently close. Directors believed the museum would only be closed for a few weeks, but realized that the closure would be for much longer than expected. The museum had to comply with specific Phase 3 guidelines to make the experience as safe as possible to reopen for museum goers.

“It was great. It was really exciting to be back,” said Erin Hanratta.

Henratta took her daughter Penelope to the museum for the first time in over six months.

“We felt very comfortable and very safe. I thought it was an appropriate amount of people and children. The mask requirement gives an extra layer of comfort. Everyone did a really good job,” said Hanratta.

When entering, museum goers will notice the new layout that allows a one-way traffic flow. Green barriers guide visitors through the spaced-out exhibits.

Danielle Ripperton is the Executive Director of the Children’s Museum. According to Ripperton, some equipment from the closed Short Pump and Fredericksburg locations are being put to use at the facilities that have reopened. Other exhibits are being held in storage.

“It was a long and difficult six months. When you don’t hear the joy of children and you don’t see the smiles on their faces or the parent interaction, it makes it really hard,” said Ripperton.

Team members are glad to be back at the museum because of the children.

“I watched every team member light up as they saw families come back in and enjoy safe experiences,” said Ripperton.

To minimize contact between visitors, individual activities and lunches are separated in bags. Visitors pick up their lunch out of a green box that is marked with ‘clean.’ When they’re finished eating, they drop off the lunch in a red box that is labeled ‘dirty.’

The team had to make sure everything inside could be sanitized.

“We had to literally look at every single piece of equipment that families would be interacting with and figure it out how it was going to be safe in this new environment,” said Ripperton.

Hand washing stations and hand sanitizing stations were added throughout the facility. While some exhibits had to close or be removed like ‘the cave,’ others were modified for safety reasons. The bright room has replaced the library to avoid close contact. Between two hour play time sessions, employees will wipe down all of the equipment before the next rotation.

General admission visitors can reserve a session online Thursday through Sunday.

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