Local museums experience impact of COVID-19 crisis

Local News

WICHITA FALLS (KFDX/KJTL) — Data shows that museums across the country are losing at least $33 million a day because of the coronavirus lockdown. Texas museums may now reopen under phase-1 of Gov. Greg Abbott’s executive order, but with limited capacity. However, that doesn’t work for many local museums, galleries and historic sites.

Though museums in Texas are allowed to open, many in our area are holding off while scrambling to adapt to a new reality. A reality that comes with taking a steep financial hit.

“We’re nonprofit so we also offer free admission and whenever visitors come in we always ask them to donate to support us so we’ve been losing those donations as well,” North Texas Museum of History Executive Director Madeleine Calcote said.

Calcote said the North Texas Museum of History canceled all field trips in April and May, which are peak times for the museum, and there’s no opening date in sight at this time.

“It is too hard for us to staff the museum and only allow 25% capacity,” Calcote said.

This difficulty is felt by several officials facing this pandemic, and it’s something the Kell House Museum Site Director Nadine McKown agreed with.

“That’s really hard for us, for me, to even wrap my head around, so how many people does that mean in the little space that we’ve got?” Mckown said. “Because a lot of our spaces are really tight.”

Sanitization is also a challenge at the Kell House. Because of the age and material of several antiques in the historic house museum, some cleaning agents can actually damage several surfaces and items.

“It’s a historic house, there’s wood in there that just can’t be sanitized,” McKown said. “While there’s not a whole lot of touching that happens, there are handrails that people need to use when they go up and down the stairs, and I can’t wipe those down with alcohol.”

For now, both Mckown and Calcote will be doing their best to preserve these museums until the time comes to reopen.

The Tales and Trails Museum in Nocona, the Wichita Falls Railroad Museum and the Pro Wrestling Hall of Fame and Museum are also not opening just yet.

Click the links below to donate to some area museums.

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