February 28, 2020 / News & Blog

ACM Resources to Help Guide Your Museum’s Response to Coronavirus

Check out our updated COVID-19 Resources on the ACM website (Updated March 26, 2020) .

In recognition of the global response to the coronavirus (COVID-19), the Association of Children’s Museums (ACM) recommends the following actions to children’s museums to guide their rapid response to this developing situation.

Your museum has strong existing practices around cleaning and safety protocols, as well as other procedures that keep your museum in top shape during cold and flu season. Given the public response and concern around COVID-19, we encourage our members to review their existing practices, as well as consider potential new processes to help your institution remain responsive as public spaces—and public resources.

These recommendations are not intended to provide a definitive answer for your museum, but can be used as a starting point for discussion at your museum’s leadership or board level.

Internal Protocols:

Cleaning and Safety Protocols:

  • We recommend that all children’s museums review their cleaning and safety protocols in light of the current risks. If changes are needed, museums should inform all staff of the changes made, especially frontline staff who directly engage with visitors.
  • We recommend that your museum review its sick child policy, and update your museum’s front desk signage to reflect this policy.
  • The situation is rapidly changing. To stay up-to-date on latest developments, museums may consider designating a staff member to conduct a daily review of news from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and World Health Organization (WHO) and sharing this information with museum leadership.

See the Safety & Risk Management section of ACM’s Online Member Resource Library for examples of cleaning and safety protocols.

Administrative Considerations:

  • We recommend that executive leadership at all children’s museums review their emergency disaster and succession plans, making changes as needed. For example, how does your museum’s phone tree work to inform staff if the museum is unexpectedly closed?  
  • We recommend museums review their insurance policy, such as how an outbreak in your museum’s community may affect your business interruption insurance or general liability policy. Under your policy, is it possible to obtain a COVID-19 endorsement or rider on your institution’s general liability policy? The National Underwriter Resource Center (NURC) may be a resource for exploring this option for U.S.-based museums.
  • We recommend that executive leadership at all children’s museums engage in scenario planning. In the event of an outbreak in your community, schools may close, or local government may even choose to temporarily close cultural institutions. While we cannot predict what will happen, putting plans in place for different scenarios will help facilitate your museum’s responses no matter the situation.
    • What is your museum’s plan if other systems—such as schools—are closed, but the museum is able to stay open?
    • How will your museum prepare for a mandatory shutdown, especially in terms of staff compensation?
    • Are there creative ways for your museum to continue operations in case of a shutdown?

Potential Sourcing Issues:

  • Because of the global nature of COVID-19, there is a possibility supply chains may be affected by the outbreak. We recommend that children’s museums take into account lines of supply that may be disrupted in terms of consumables, office supplies, and cleaning supplies. It may be prudent to stock up—for example, expanding your museum’s typical one-month supply of toilet paper to a three-month supply.

External Actions:

Hosting Gatherings:

  • Not only do children’s museums host events, but they are gathering spaces for visitors of all ages. We recommend that children’s museums review WHO guidelines for organizing mass gatherings in the context of COVID-19, with recommendations for planning, risk assessment, and other considerations.

Serving as a Resource:

  • We recommend that museums consider their external messaging about health and safety practices. Is there an opportunity for your museum to serve as a trusted resource to your community, such as sharing information in your newsletter or on social media?
    • Your museum may consider sharing resources from the CDC or your local health and human services department.
    • You may also consider sharing resources about handwashing and update your bathroom signage to encourage best handwashing practices.
  • We recommend that museums consider their external media plan. For example, local media may contact your museum about your cleaning plan. Identifying your museum’s spokespeople and messaging plan will help position your museum as a trusted local resource. 

These recommendations draw from best practices for all communicable diseases. As local destinations, children’s museums are well versed in many of these practices and protocols. Part of what makes COVID-19 scary is that it’s new—but our field has tested practices that work to keep kids safe while playfully learning. By reviewing and updating our existing practices, and leveraging our roles as trusted resources, children’s museums can remain responsive in service to our communities.

Resource List:

These resources will be updated as new information becomes available.

ACM Groupsite:

ACM Groupsite is the Association of Children’s Museums’ central hub online. It’s a space where children’s museums professionals can ask for advice, share ideas, and access resources on our discussion boards. Log in or create an account.

Discussion Posts on ACM Groupsite

Resources in the Online Member Resource Library

Messaging from Children’s Museums

More Museum Resources

Health Organizations

World Health Organization: https://www.who.int/

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: https://www.cdc.gov/

Environmental Protection Agency:

Directory of Local Health Departments (U.S.): https://www.naccho.org/membership/lhd-directory

The Association of Children’s Museums (ACM) champions children’s museums worldwide. Follow ACM on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram.