18th and Vine museums set to reopen

The museums at 18th and Vine will reopen next week, following weeks of being closed due to COVID-19. 

The American Jazz Museum and Negro Leagues Baseball Museum, 1616 E. 18th St., will reopen on Tuesday, June 16.

Precautions are in place to keep visitors, staff and volunteers safe, following guidance from local, state and federal health agencies.

The American Jazz Museum will be open Tuesday through Sunday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sundays noon to 4 p.m.

The admissions process has been altered as a safety precaution.

Visitors must reserve a time online via the museum passport on Eventbrite, which is free. Museum passports allow the museums to track occupancy limits within the shared building.

Tickets can be purchased online or in person, but the museums strongly recommend buying online.

While staff are required to wear a mask, the museums also strongly recommend all visitors wear one as well.

With increased hand sanitizing stations throughout the museum, the number of guests will be limited by the city’s capacity restrictions to ensure social distancing.

Although the museums have reopened, public programming remains virtual. Group and guided tours remain suspended, and the Blue Room is closed.

This year the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum is celebrating the centennial of the Negro National League, which was founded in February 1920 at the Paseo YMCA.

“I know how proud Buck (O’Neil) would be of everybody keeping this museum healthy and whole,’’ President of the museum Bob Kendrick said at the anniversary celebration. “He would be giddy. He would be smiling from ear to ear. I know we’ll feel his presence, as I always do. I tell people all the time, ‘I know Buck is looking over my shoulder.’ In many ways, he guides my footsteps.’’

The Negro Leagues museum will open with reduced hours, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday and noon to 4 p.m. on Sundays.

“In accordance with city regulations, the Museums cannot operate at full occupancy during the COVID-19 State of Emergency,” according to the museum’s website. “Thus, we have implemented changes for purchasing tickets, moving through exhibitions, and for shopping.”

While implementing the same passport program as the American Jazz Museum, the Negro Leagues museum will schedule visitors for timed sessions.

“Most visitors spend up to 2 hours in the museum,” according to the website. “Because of that, we wanted to create separate times when guests could visit so that the largest number of guests would be able to experience the museums. Additionally, there is a gap between each session which allows staff to clean and sanitize the building.”

The Grandstand Theatre will not be showing films, but the Press Box and Diamond Theater will, with limited seating.

Usual amenities at the museums, like drinking fountains, interactive displays, coat and bag check and seating, will not be available.

Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas issued a State of Emergency on March 12 due to COVID-19. On March 16, the order was updated to close schools and restaurant dining rooms, restrict visits to long-term care facilities and encourage businesses to allow non-essential employees to work from home, effectively closing the museums.

On May 28, Lucas issued the seventh update to the Executive Order to slowly begin reopening businesses with precautions.

The museums partnered with KC Culture Cares, a collaborative of local cultural centers and museums, which has been working to design guidelines to reopen the businesses while preventing the spread of the virus.

KC Culture Cares recommends the businesses sanitize surfaces often, monitor capacity, verify staff and volunteer health daily and request they wear protective gear.

They recommend Kansas Citians planning to visit the museums to stay home if they are ill, wear masks, keep six feet distance and wash their hands often.

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