In mid-March, locations across St. Louis closed due to the coronavirus. With the city, county and state easing guidelines, places are starting to reopen. Here's an update on some of the area's museums and attractions, how they're dealing with the virus, and what visitors can expect while visiting.
Endangered Wolf Center: Now open
The Endangered Wolf Center announced June 2 is had reopened.
The center is limiting its programs, primarily offering private tours. Tours feature a smaller number of guests with hand sanitizing stations situated throughout. It is requiring that all guests and staff wear face masks.
The gift shop and classroom activities have moved outdoors.
St. Louis Aquarium, Wheel and other Union Station attractions: Now open
The St. Louis Aquarium, the St. Louis Wheel and other attractions at Union Station will reopen Monday, June 8, after closing in March due to the coronavirus.
All visitors to the aquarium, including annual pass holders, will be required to have reservations, operators said Monday. Guests won’t be able to buy tickets for the same day at the ticket counter and they won’t be able to come in before their reservation time.
Aquarium guests over the age of 9 will be required to wear masks, and they can lower them when they are able to stay at least six feet away from others or when they are eating or drinking. Guests who can’t wear masks for medical reasons won’t be required to wear them. Guests will also be required to pass through an infrared screener at the entrance to check their temperatures and take a survey about their health. Those with temperatures of 100 degrees or more will be asked to come back another day.
Workers will also wear masks and will continuously clean hard surfaces.
The aquarium has established a one-way path throughout the building. The touchscreens, train experience and virtual reality sandbox won’t be available because of the difficulty in keeping them continuously clean and safe for social distancing.
At touch pools and other interactive areas, spaced floor decals will indicate where people can stand to enjoy those experiences while maintaining social distancing.
The St. Louis ropes course and mirror maze will also reopen. Marks on the floor will help guests maintain social distancing while in line and gloves will be offered to them.
Gondolas at the St. Louis Wheel will be sanitized between groups and they will be unloaded and loaded so guests can maintain social distancing between groups. Guests will be encouraged to wear masks.
The carousel will also reopen, with workers sanitizing carousel animals between riders. They will also sanitize golf equipment after guests use them at the miniature golf course.
The Trainshed restaurant and the 1894 Cafe will also reopen at reduced capacity. The Soda Fountain reopened May 18.
No cash payments will be allowed at the attractions.
— Valerie Schremp Hahn
Gateway Arch museum, visitor center: Now open
ST. LOUIS — The Gateway Arch will reopen to visitors Wednesday, but it still won’t be possible to take a tram ride to the top.
The Gateway Arch Visitor Center, the Museum at the Gateway Arch, the Arch Store and the Arch Cafe will reopen from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Visitors must make ticket reservations to enter, and tickets remain free.
The 630-foot monument and its underground museum and other facilities have been closed since March 18 because of the coronavirus pandemic. The grounds have remained open.
The tram ride to the top will reopen eventually, but park officials don’t know when. Each tram capsule carries five passengers to an observation deck at the top. In May, park officials unveiled a livestream of eastern and western views from the deck.
Officials have reduced visitor capacity and have placed social distancing floor markers throughout, as well as plexiglass barriers at counters and the security checkpoint. They’ve also established queuing lines and have placed hand sanitizing stations throughout. Visitors are encouraged to wear face coverings in spots where they cannot maintain social distancing.
Reservations will open Monday and can be made at gatewayarch.com or by calling 877-982-1410.
Riverboats at the Gateway Arch: Now open
ST. LOUIS — One more sign that St. Louis is getting back to normal: The Riverboats at the Gateway Arch are cruising the Mississippi River again.
The riverboats had been closed since March 16 due to the coronavirus pandemic. They started cruising Wednesday. They are offering one-hour cruises now, and longer themed cruises will start eventually.
Guests ages 9 and up must wear face coverings, and those who cannot wear them for medical reasons are exempt. The number of people allowed on the cruises is being reduced, tables have been pushed farther apart and hand sanitizing stations are available. The staff are cleaning surfaces and replacing air filters more often.
The Paddlewheel Cafe on the dock is also open and offering a limited menu.
Guests are encouraged to buy tickets in advance at gatewayarch.com or by calling 877-982-1410. Visitors can also buy tickets at the riverboat dock ticket counter, and cashless transactions are recommended.
St. Louis Zoo: June 13
The St. Louis Zoo will open June 13, limiting access to indoor exhibits such as the herpetarium and insectarium, institute free online timed ticket sign-ups and require face masks for those older than 9. Ticket sign-ups open June 8 here.
“Keeping our animal and veterinary care staff safe and protected is the best measure to keep our animals safe and at minimal risk of exposure to a virus that we know very little about,” zoo President and CEO Jeffrey Bonner said.
— Jacob Barker
Magic House: June 15; MADE: June 8
The Magic House will reopen on June 15 and the Magic House at MADE on June 8 after being closed since March due to the coronavirus.
Reservations will be required at both attractions for two-hour sessions, allowing for deep cleaning between sessions, and guests over age 9 will be required to wear masks, according to YouTube videos posted late last week narrated by Magic House president Beth Fitzgerald and a staffer at MADE.
Guests at the Magic House and MADE will get a free mini activity kit with supplies they can use throughout their visit, like crayons and glue sticks. They can take the kits home.
They have removed some exhibits at the Magic House, and modified and added others. Food at the cafe must be ordered online and can be picked up and eaten outside at tables in the front garden.
They have added touchless sinks, toe kicks to doors in bathrooms, and replaced water fountains with touchless filling stations. Signs throughout both facilities will remind visitors to wash their hands and maintain social distancing.
The National Museum of Transportation will reopen June 15, it announced Tuesday on social media. The museum has not released any additional information at this time. Stay up-to-date by visitingtnmot.org.
— Benjamin Simon
Missouri Botanical Garden: June 16
Missouri Botanical Garden will reopen June 16, its president announced Thursday.
The garden had been closed amid the coronavirus pandemic.
"The Garden recognizes the importance of public gardens and outdoor spaces as indispensable to community healing," Garden President Peter Wyse Jackson said in a press release.
Protective face coverings for all guests older than age 9 will be required.
In addition, tickets must be purchased in advance, as there will be no walk-up or day-of on-site purchases. Tickets will be available one week before the garden opens.
Remaining closed until further notice are the following: all conservatories, the Sachs Museum and Tower Grove House, the Children’s Garden and water play areas.
The garden broke ground Feb. 27 on a $92 million visitor center initially set to open in 2022.
— Staff reports
St. Louis Art Museum: June 16
The St. Louis Art Museum will reopen on Tuesday, June 16, with its same hours and new safety protocols.
Perhaps the best news for art fans is that the long-planned exhibition "Millet and Modern Art: From van Gogh to Dali" will be extended through the summer, according to a news release Monday.
The show, which had been a decade in the making, brings popular painters such as Vincent van Gogh and Salvador Dali to St. Louis, including some works that have never been there.
It had been scheduled to close May 17 and was only open four weeks before the coronavirus shutdown meant the museum had to close.
The new protocols include limiting admission to the exhibition to 15 visitors per 15 minutes; visitors are strongly encouraged to secure tickets in advance through MetroTix starting June 9 and to visit slam.org/Millet for information, according to the release.
Visitors to the museum are required to wear masks and practice social distancing. The visitors will enter only through the East Building's garage or its doors on Fine Arts Drive.
Capacity in the permanent collection galleries will be limited.
Visitors are asked not to bring large bags with them to minimize contact at coat checks. The museum's restaurant and cafe will reopen at a later date.
Tours, gallery talks, lectures and other in-person programming will be suspended through at least Sept. 7, the news release says. However, the museum will continue to develop new and engaging digital resources and programs so the public can experience the museum’s collection virtually.
Although the Art Hill Film Series is canceled as an in-person event, the museum is working to develop a virtual version of the popular, annual festival. More details about the online film series will be announced later.
Visitors are urged to consult detailed safety protocols at slam.org before they visit.
— Jane Henderson
Butterfly House, Shaw Nature Reserve: June 16
The Sophia M. Sachs Butterfly House in Chesterfield and the Shaw Nature Reserve in Gray Summit plans to reopen on June 16 after closing in March because of the coronavirus, officials announced Friday.
At first, the Butterfly House will be open for hour-long guided tours only, with a minimum of two people and a maximum of nine. Reservations are required, and staff will take guests through a special exhibit, “Under the Big Top” and include a live butterfly release and live animal encounters.
Masks are required for anyone over age 9 and recommended for those ages 3-9.
After the first phase, the Butterfly House plans to moved to timed electronic ticketing entry on July 7. Tickets will be available in hour-long time slots online and by phone only.
The Missouri Botanical Garden will also open on June 16. The garden and nature reserve will also implement additional rules, including requiring tickets bought in advance and masks for those 9 and older. For more information, visit mobot.org or shawnature.org.
The Butterfly House will be open from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., Tuesday-Sunday. For more information, visit butterflyhouse.org.
— Valerie Schremp Hahn
City Museum: June 17
The City Museum is reopening on June 17, after being closed due to the coronavirus. Some things will be different, though, at least at first.
Only 400 guests will be allowed in the building at a time, in each of two three-hour sessions (when visitors buy tickets, they will have to specify which three-hour session they want to attend). Social distancing will be supervised anywhere there is a line, and climbing attractions will be one-way.
Visitors over the age of 9 will be required to wear masks (if needed, they will be sold at the museum); those who cannot wear a mask will be permitted to wear face shields. Hand sanitizer will be available for free throughout the building.
The rooftop attractions will not be open yet, and neither will certain other exhibits and galleries. Others will operate on a limited schedule.
The entire museum will be cleaned before, during and after each session. The Clean Team will be dressed in uniforms the museum promises will be "blindingly obvious."
For the time being, the museum will be open for the three-hour sessions every day from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Because of the limited space, advance tickets are strongly recommended. Reservations may be made for June 17 through June 28 at citymuseum.com.
— Daniel Neman
St. Louis Science Center: June 20
The St. Louis Science Center will reopen June 20 after being closed amid the spread of the coronavirus.
The center said that it will detail more "policies and protocols" closer to the reopening date, which falls on a Saturday, but safety measures will include that all visitors have a timed ticket reservation. Online reservations made at slsc.org or by phone are encouraged, and limited onsite reservations will be subject to availability.
Days and hours of operation will be reduced initially. Masks will be required for visitors ages 9 and above, as well as all Science Center employees, vendors and contractors, with exceptions for those who cannot wear masks for medical reasons.
To maintain social distancing, the center will set up one-way walking paths and queuing lines, it said.
“The Science Center will continue to assess the measures being put in place to ensure we are providing the safest environment we can, while also delivering the unique and exciting experience our guests enjoy when they visit,” said Todd Bastean, president and chief executive officer of the Science Center. “Certainly with all the events and circumstances related to the global pandemic, it is clear that science has never been more important or relevant in our daily lives. We look forward to continuing to ‘ignite and sustain lifelong science and technology learning.’”
— Leah Thorsen
Missouri History Museum, Soldiers Memorial and MHS research library: June 20
The Missouri History Museum, the Missouri Historical Society Library and Research Center, and the Soldiers Memorial Military Museum will reopen to the public on Saturday, June 20.
Reservations will be required for all three locations and hours will be reduced, and face coverings are required for staff and visitors ages 9 and up. All three venues will be open at 10 percent of visitor capacity, to comply with St. Louis public health guidelines.
The buildings closed in March because of the coronavirus pandemic.
One-way paths and lines will be established at each venue to establish social distancing. “Essential staff has continued to report to work to take care of our three beautiful historic buildings, and our team has been hard at work developing a flexible and phased approach to reopening,” Frances Levine, president and CEO of the Missouri Historical Society, said in a statement.
She noted that the historical society employees established several digital efforts during the closure, including STL History Live events via Zoom, a Stories of the Pandemic digital archive, and the #UpliftingSTL and Historians at Home series.
“I am so proud of how the MHS team continued to share hope through history during this historic time. As we begin to welcome visitors back to experience our engaging and thought-provoking exhibits, we will continue to share the St. Louis story digitally through our website and on social media.”
The Missouri History Museum will be open Wednesday-Sunday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. The History Clubhouse, the museum’s attraction for children, will be closed until further notice. The shop from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. The cafe will open July 22, allowing staff to see how visitation is for the first month.
Soldiers Memorial will be open Wednesday-Sunday from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. The library and research center will provide research assistance by appointment only, and will be open Wednesday-Friday, 12-4 p.m. and Saturday from 10 a.m.-4 p.m.
Six Flags St. Louis will reopen to members and season pass holders on June 22 and to the general public on June 26, the Eureka theme park announced today.
The opening date for Hurricane Harbor, the adjacent water park, will be announced later.
Reservations will be required, and guests over the age of two will be required to wear masks. The masks won’t be required on water attractions.
Guests will also have their temperatures checked at the entry with contactless thermal imaging, and bags will be checked via touchless screening technology, and they can order meals and snacks with mobile food ordering.
Guests will also see social distancing markers in lines, and attendants will leave a row or seat between guests on rides. Guests watching outdoor entertainment and games will also be separated by at least six feet and workers will constantly sanitize railings, seats and other high-touch areas.
The park will be open to a limited number of people at first and attendance levels will gradually increase.