Earlier this month, we had a wonderful five days welcoming visitors back to the Charles M. Schulz Museum after being closed for 15 weeks starting in March due to state and county COVID-19 safety orders.
After almost four months of being shut down, we hoped that we might be allowed to open “any day now,” and so we worked diligently to plan a safe reopening: procuring hand sanitizing stations, installing plexiglass at the ticket counter, and establishing other safety protocols for staff and visitors—including required face coverings, limited capacity in the Museum, and cute Snoopy decals on the floor reminding visitors to space themselves out.
We also determined that Museum staff would watch over the galleries rather than our team of volunteers due to the added responsibility of these new procedures as well as protecting our volunteers alongside our visitors.
Although we had the opportunity to reopen as early as the Fourth of July holiday weekend, we thought that it might not be the best option, as we didn’t want to be swamped at the same time that we were testing our new safety protocols.
This led us to choose Wednesday, July 8. It was a very exciting step.
Well, we had no more opened our doors than we received a general warning from the Governor’s office stating that we might have to close as soon as the following Monday.
Despite the change in plans, we and our visitors still enjoyed a wonderful five days together. I went in every day to see how things were going and to thank visitors for coming. I like to ask where they are from and whether this is their first visit to the Museum.
Museum senior staff welcomed each visitor, explaining that certain areas such as the Education Room and Theater were closed out of an abundance of caution. The people I spoke with were touched by the personal attention and so entertained by what they experienced that they didn’t seem to mind the inconvenience.
On one of the days, a mother and her nine-year-old twin girls were visiting, one of whom had been Lucy in her psychiatric booth for Halloween. They were very excited to be there and to see original strips, including, of course, Lucy in her psychiatric booth. The three of us had a wonderful conversation and the girls were thrilled to talk about their Peanuts experiences. Interactions like this are one of the things we don’t often make time for on a “normal” day, and I considered it a bonus of this slower time.
Our volunteer director, Kristi Lucas-Hayden, also told me about an interaction she shared with one family who came to visit:
“I was on the Museum floor for most of Sunday and a large family came in just after we opened. They spent a long time on the lower level before I met them again just outside the re-creation of Sparky’s Studio. The grandmother took me aside to mention how impressed she was with everything. She was especially taken with the fact that her grandchildren were reading every word on every label and loving it all! She noted that they had all learned so much and that they thoroughly enjoyed every display. They were so grateful for such a rich family experience!”
All in all, our time being open to the public demonstrated that we could do so safely. Though Peanuts fans cannot currently visit the Schulz Museum in Santa Rosa, those lucky enough to be in Japan can visit Snoopy Museum Tokyo; and in South Korea they can visit the newly opened Snoopy Garden on Jeju Island.
**A note about our volunteers: They have become family and are eager to come back to work but understand it will take a while. In the meantime, small groups of volunteers are meeting up for “distanced” parking lot visits to catch up with each other, share books, puzzles, and general news. I drove by to say hello, and it made me happy to see their faces and know they were enjoying each other.