Slow Vaccine Rollout Takes a Bite Out of Reopening

The Academy Museum of Motion Pictures was once slated to open today, Dec. 14.  COVID forced the opening date to be moved up to April 30, 2021, and now museum director Bill Kramer is talking of yet another postponement. This is one index of how the gradual rollout of vaccines is casting uncertainty on museum planning for 2021.

For at least the first half of the coming year, museums and every other public institution will grapple with an ethical dilemma in which some people have been vaccinated, some haven't because they aren't yet eligible, and some haven't because they intentionally opted out of vaccination. There will also be those who have had COVID and may or may not have natural immunity. For that matter nobody knows whether the vaccinated can spread the virus.

Apps are being made to display vaccination and antibody status. It's said that some businesses may require an app for admission. It's not easy to imagine museums, which strive to send the message that everyone is welcome, doing so. 

A new museum's opening poses different tradeoffs than a re-opening does. By definition an opening happens only once, and it provides free media that's hard to get thereafter. If waiting a few more months gets the Academy Museum a star-studded gala instead of a socially distanced soft opening, it probably makes sense to wait. 

(Shown, a Jaws prop recently installed at the Academy Museum)