RIVERSIDE — July 1 marks the reopening of the National Museum of the United States Air Force to the public.
The popular destination has been closed since March due to the COVID-19 situation.
While the museum has been closed, employees have been hard at work, making changes to layouts and determining ways to accommodate visitors in a safe manner while social distancing, according to staff.
The first noticeable change is a new front entrance that has been moved to the right of the former entrance. The path is well marked and museum employees and volunteers are on hand to make finding your way easy.
The wearing of masks is required inside the museum. Staff members said masks are deemed necessary, not only for visitors but to keep employees and volunteers safe. Officials pointed out that a large majority of employees and volunteers are among the “at-risk” age group and if a number of them feel ill, the museum could be forced to close again.
Roped stanchions are in place to insure two-way traffic down major aisle ways.
The task of re-vamping the museum to fit safety guidelines has been an ongoing team effort according to Chief of Attractions Operations Mary Bruggeman.
“It has been a team effort,” Bruggeman said. “The foundation staff, museum staff, the National Aviation Hall of Fame, have all worked to get the museum ready.”
Bruggeman credits the leadership of Director David Tillotson, NMUSAF, for coordinating the efforts.
“He is not afraid to get his hands dirty,” Bruggeman said, adding that Tillotson could often be found working alongside others to get the museum ready for visitors.
The museum officially reopens at 9 a.m. July 1 and will be open 9 a.m until 5 p.m. seven days per week.
The National Museum of the United States Air Force is the oldest and largest military aviation museum in the world and attracts about a million visitors annually.
Reach Mike Ullery at [email protected].