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COVID & the Arts: Putnam Takes Longer to Re-open

So it can present a new experience for visitors, the Putnam Museum Science Center will take longer to re-open. 

The 153-year-old Davenport institution, on West 12th Street, has been closed since March 16, and is planning to reopen for small summer camps July 6, for members only July 8 to 12, and to the general public July 15, with new safety precautions.

Putnam president and CEO Rachael Mullins says the summer camps July 6-8 will be limited to just 10 kids each, to allow for social distancing. When the museum opens to the public, admission will be limited and by timed entry only. There will also be caps on total visitors in the exhibit halls, as well traffic pattern guidance throughout the museum to allow proper social distancing,but masks will NOT be required. 

Mullins says the Putnam is taking longer to reopen so it can implement plans for a new visitor entry, in the natural science wing, closer to exhibits. Visit lengths may also be capped depending on other reservations for the day. 

Credit Putnam Museum
Rachael Mullins, Putnam Museum President and CEO

“As it became clear this museum closure would be for an extended period of time, we decided we would take this time to revisit our facility and exhibits, and to reinvigorate the visitor experience at the Putnam.”

Initially after reopening, advanced reservations will be required with no walk-ups allowed for regular admission. Ticketing, museum store, a lobby and an orientation gallery on museum history will be at the new entrance, and the entire theater annex – including the previous grand lobby, store, and Giant Screen Theater, will be closed until August.

She says when the 264-seat theater does reopen, it will only be for limited school groups at first.

“For the summer, we’re going to be limiting group gatherings to no more than 50, so we’re anticipating the theater annex and that new experience will be opened at the end of the summer in time for the school year. What visitors can anticipate when we first reopen to the public July 15, is that the museum side of the facility will be reopened with this new visitor experience.”

Based on feedback, Mullins says, the museum is rearranging exhibits, highlighting new objects from the collection, local history and inventors, different interactives in the science center, and a glimpse at behind the scenes .

“We constantly hear people love the Putnam, but there is a want to experience something new and different every time you come. We’re wanting to organize the galleries in a way there can be more regular updates and you can experience more of the collection. It’s been part of what we offer the community that probably has the highest interest, when people find out more about the collection."

“At any given time, we might only have 5 percent of the collection on display. It makes people so curious about what else is there. Really, it’s the heart of our mission in our community, this historic collection that’s been built by dedicated Quad-Citizens over our 150-plus-year history. It’s always been part of the Putnam and now we’re given an opportunity to bring even more of that mission out into the galleries.”

There will be sanitizing stations throughout the museum, and staff will be cleaning parts of the gallery throughout the day. Some areas may be closed for short periods to change out props and clean surfaces, with a schedule provided upon your arrival.

“We’re really excited to welcome our community back to the Putnam and we’re excited for people to get a look at the new visitor experience and let us know what you think.”

For more information, visit Putnam.org.

Formerly the arts and entertainment reporter for The Dispatch/Rock Island Argus and Quad-City Times, Jonathan Turner now writes freelance for WVIK and QuadCities.com. He has experience writing for daily newspapers for 32 years and has expertise across a wide range of subject areas, including government, politics, education, the arts, economic development, historic preservation, business, and tourism. He loves writing about music and the arts, as well as a multitude of other topics including features on interesting people, places, and organizations. He has a passion for accompanying musicals, singers, choirs, and instrumentalists. He even wrote his own musical based on The Book of Job, which premiered at Playcrafters in 2010. He wrote a 175-page history book about downtown Davenport, which was published by The History Press in 2016. Turner was honored in 2009 to be among 24 arts journalists nationwide to take part in a 10-day fellowship offered by the National Endowment for the Arts in New York City on classical music and opera, based at Columbia University’s journalism school.