Pandemic Precautions at the Philadelphia Museum of Art

Roz Warren
The Philadelphia Museum of Artwebsite photo. used with permission

Are you thinking about visiting the Philadelphia Museum of Art? Here’s what you can expect when it comes to COVID awareness and precautions.

I visited the museum yesterday. The great news is that the museum is hyper-aware when it comes to COVID prevention. There were signs everywhere telling visitors to mask up and maintain social distance.

Mask Requirements

All museum visitors above the age of two and museum staff are required to wear CDC- approved face coverings at all times. Everyone I saw at the museum, both visitors and museum staff, wore masks.

Not only was everyone masked, but most wore their masks properly, not just over their mouths or on their chins. Even tiny children wore their masks over their noses. 

A plus? The fact that a lot of museum-goers and museum staff are arty, creative types, meant that many of the masks they wore were eye-catching and beautiful.

I did see a few noses, but museum staff were vigilant about this — I saw one museum guard ask a visitor whose mask had slipped down to his chin to adjust it, which the visitor did promptly. 

Limiting the Number of Visitors via Timed Entry
Limiting the number of museum visitors vis timed entry means that galleries are uncrowded.Photo by author.

As a safety precaution, the museum is currently limiting the number of museum visitors through timed entry. Tickets must be reserved online before visiting, although some tickets are available for purchase by walk-up visitors. (When I visited the museum on Sunday afternoon, there were plenty of tickets available for on site purchase.)

Time slots are available for entry each half hour, up to four weeks in advance, with new tickets released every Tuesday. You can buy tickets here.

Limiting the number of folks in the building at any one time meant that the galleries weren't at all crowded, making for a safe and relaxing experience. 

Social Distance
Social Distance Signage. Philadelphia Museum of Art. May 9, by author

The museum is enforcing social distance via signs posted through the building and by instructions on its website telling visitors to make sure there are “six feet, or two meters, between your party and other visitors. There are also social-distancing markers throughout the building, and acrylic panels installed in front of the Visitor Services Desks and the cashier stations in the gift shops.

Because the galleries, corridors and other public spaces in the museum are spacious and well-ventilated, maintaining social distance was not a challenge. That being said, when lines formed to get into the museum itself or into the gift shops, people did tend to stand closer together.

Hand Sanitizers & Enhanced Cleaning

Hand sanitizer units are available throughout the building, and the museum’s website assures the public that there is enhanced cleaning of high-touch surfaces throughout the day.

Only12 Customers Allowed in the Gift Shop at a Time
Museum-goers waiting in line to enter the gift by author

You know the museum is serious about COVID safety when they limit the number of shoppers who can enter the museum’s three popular gift shops. Museum employees were stationed at the entrance of each shop to make sure that there were only only twelve people in each shop at a time. Would-be shoppers had to wait in line for somebody to exit before being allowed to enter a gift shop. 

I saw plenty of would-be shoppers get tired of waiting in line and walk away. Kudos to the museum for putting safety above commerce.

The takeaway? If you’re thinking of visiting the Philadelphia Museum of Art? You’ll have to mask up. You’ll have plenty of opportunities to keep your hands clean. And you’ll find that keeping a safe distance from your fellow museum-goers won’t be a problem. In fact, for museum-goers accustomed to fighting their way through a crowded gallery to get to the art, the current set-up will be a real pleasure.

So? Put on your mask, head for the museum and enjoy some art!

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Roz Warren, the author of JUST ANOTHER DAY AT YOUR LOCAL PUBLIC LIBRARY, has appeared on both the Today Show and Morning Edition, writes for everyone from the Funny Times to the New York Times, and has been included in 13 Chicken Soup for the Soul collections. Drop her a line at

Bala Cynwyd, PA

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