Home News COVID-19 Situation UFO museum reopens after revised health orders

UFO museum reopens after revised health orders

Ralf, the mascot of the International UFO Museum and Research Center, greets Rowen Barnett and her father, Clinton, of Fort Worth, Texas, Tuesday in the museum gift shop. (Juno Ogle Photo)

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With revised health orders allowing some museums to now operate at reduced capacity, the International UFO Museum and Research Center opened its exhibits to the public Monday.

Eli Desko, right, covers his ears as a UFO display roars and flashes colored lights Tuesday at the International UFO Museum and Research Center. His grandfather, John Boskovich, and his brother, Jackson, also watch the display. The museum opened Monday under revised state health orders allowing museums with static displays to open at 25% of their building capacity. (Juno Ogle Photo)

Museum Director Jim Hill said its first day open brought 180 visitors, a far cry from what the museum usually sees, but the staff was happy to have visitors again.

The governor announced revised health orders on Thursday allowing museums with static exhibits to reopen at 25% capacity — 150 people for the UFO museum. The orders took effect Saturday.

That didn’t give the museum much time to make a big announcement about reopening, but Hill said it has worked out.

“It gave us a chance to break in what our new operating procedures would be in terms of occupancy,” Hill said.

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The museum closed in mid-March in response to coronavirus health orders from the state, but the staff stayed busy throughout the summer so the museum could open on short notice when the time came.

Several exhibits have been updated and the exhibit space reorganized, giving previous visitors a new experience, Hill said. The staff hopes to have one more exhibit upgraded by the end of the year.

While the research library remains closed, the gift shop continued to fill online orders and reopened to the public in June.

The museum has removed or deactivated interactive touch screens for public safety. Visitors and staff must wear face masks, and a machine near the entrance takes people’s temperatures. Markers on the floor indicate social distancing space.

Hill said employees’ temperatures are checked each morning before starting work. If they show a high temperature, they will be sent home.

If an employee should test positive for COVID-19, Hill said the museum will close for two weeks and undergo a deep cleaning in addition to the daily cleaning practices.

Many of the visitors are coming specifically because the museum is open again while others just happened to be in town, Hill said.

“We had three this morning say they came by last week and we were closed. They happened to be coming back by and noticed we were open, so they stopped. It’s kind of a mixed bag,” he said.

Becca Barnett, Fort Worth, Texas, visited Tuesday with her husband, Clinton, and their young children, River and Rowen.

“I love it so much,” Becca said of her first visit as she examined merchandise in the gift shop.

The couple had been in Colorado, where they recently purchased property, and decided to come through Roswell on their way back to Texas.

Hill said he hopes health orders will soon improve so the museum can increase its capacity of visitors.

“We’re hopeful to get some sort of tourism up and running. I know that’s a big part of the downtown economy,” Hill said.

Just south of the museum, Lucy Dominguez, owner of Gus and Lucy’s Place, 110 W. First St., adjusted a blow-up alien figure outside the entrance of the store filled with alien-themed T-shirts and other merchandise. She said business had been slow throughout the summer with the museum closed.

“We have had a little bit of business, at least enough to pay the rent,” she said.

Dominguez said she had seen an increase in customer traffic with Monday’s museum opening, however.

Some of Roswell’s other museums are open or making plans to do so.

• The Anderson Museum of Contemporary Art has also reopened at 25% capacity for its regular hours of 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday and 1 to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.

• The Miniatures and Curious Collections Museum, 320 N. Richardson Ave., is open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturdays only until further notice.

• The Roswell Museum and Art Center has plans for a partial reopening later this month.

To keep up with local coverage of the coronavirus, go to rdrnews.com/category/news/covid-19-situation/.

City/RISD reporter Juno Ogle can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 205, or reporter04@rdrnews.com.

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