May C-19 Update

UPDATED 5/20 As everyone is adapting to the ever-changing public health situation, the Dorothy Molter Museum is taking steps to prepare for what will be the strangest and most challenging season it’s ever had. As ominous as that sounds, what we’ve noticed already is that our supporters, friends and community members are taking  big steps to lend a hand where needed – folks are coming together. This is something that Dorothy would be proud of.

So, what is going on at the Museum?

Minnesota’s “Stay Safe Plan” limits public-facing businesses and organizations like ours in the work we can do. At this time, we are unsure of when we will be able to open for visitation. There are several factors that will influence this decision, and we encourage you to visit the State of Minnesota’s site for details. However, we are also taking into serious consideration how we would be able to open safely, for visitors and staff.

While we wait, we are taking this opportunity to clean and prepare the cabins and grounds for public visitation.

What will change?

When the Museum is able to open, it will be by pre-arranged reservation only. This will allow for appropriate physical distancing between staff/visitors and visitors group/visitor group.  An online system is being developed through Fare Harbor and we hope to launch it as soon as we have an idea of when we’ll be able to open.

The Museum will be closed a minimum of two days per week in June. Due to our inability to effectively hire and staff seasonal employees, permanent staff will be carrying the staffing duties for public operations such as admissions and information/tours. We will be closed on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, and possibly Mondays, and will re-evaluate how this is working for Museum staff, visitation and visitors and make any changes as appropriate for July, August and September/October. Please understand that this is not desirable on our part. This will significantly reduce our ability to generate revenue to support the Museum. However, we are doing our best to fulfill our mission, accommodate visitation and keep our Museum family employed safely.

We hope that our new reservation system will work swimmingly and we can continue to take reservations year-round.

We will limit the visitor groups to 10 or fewer and ask that they are from the same household/family group.

We will require all staff and visitors to wear a face mask covering their nose and mouth. Per CDC recommendations, we are implementing all possible precautions to protect our staff and visitors while at our site. We will be offering disposable masks for sale for $1.00 for visitors that do not have their own but want to explore the Museum. We strongly encourage all visitors to prepare to wear a mask while exploring Ely in general.

What plans do we have in place so far?

We will be implementing a “one-way” Museum exploration system to maintain physical distance of 6′ or more between staff/visitors and visitor group/visitor group.

We will try to do a brief, introductory mini-tour in the Interpretive Center and outdoors for each group reservation, but will not physically guide groups through the cabins like we have in past seasons. Success of this alternate to guided tours will be evaluated regularly and we will make changes as necessary or appropriate.

We are researching whether we can offer “outdoor only” visits, nature walks and root beer classes and hope to find out by June 1 if this is allowed by the State of Minnesota.

Screenshot of the Museum's virtual tour homepage as if on a computer or the screen of a smartphone

We have a virtual tour available! Clio is an online platform for using technology to tour a historic site both during a physical visit and from afar. The Dorothy Molter Museum’s tour can be accessed on a web browser or via a free downloadable app for Android and iPhone. This app can be used during your visit as an alternate tour guide with imagery and an audio option to listen while you explore! More information.

We have a cleaning/disinfecting protocol for indoor Museum spaces. Protocols will take place after each visitor group has exited structures and includes but is not limited to: wiping touch surfaces such as door handles/knobs, railings, laminated guides, spraying disinfectant into the air where delicate collection items are not present, and allowing buildings to remain empty for a period of time between guests.

How will we communicate expectations to our visitors?

Once it is clear on when we will be allowed to open, we will be ordering signage and physical barriers such as those you may have seen at your grocery store or plastic sheeting to prevent unnecessary touching of gift shop items that are difficult or impossible to disinfect.

We will also be updating information on this site, here in our blog, via our email newsletter (sign up at bottom of homepage) in our Hours & Admissions and Programs & Events pages, and on our social media accounts – or you are welcome to email us with questions.

What else should you be aware of?

We are bracing for what will be a challenging year and do have concerns about our ability to generate the revenue that carries the organization through the entire fiscal year. Here are some of the challenges we are facing and ask for your patience, understanding and cooperation:

  • We are unable to offer weekly/monthly public programs, classes or events
  • We are unable to hire additional seasonal staff due to the uncertainty of work available
  • We are limiting retail merchandise inventory purchases to best-sellers and online favorites, which also financially impacts our vendors
  • Exploring how public visitation will look in light of physical distancing guidelines in a constantly changing situation
  • Time marches on and the day-to-day maintenance needs don’t go away, we’re still trying to address all expected and unexpected things that happen during the course of a year at the Museum
  • We are personally experiencing this just as you are, with fears and concern for our own families and community but also with hope and a feeling that supporting each other during this time is important for positive mental health and sense of community

We said this before but it’s still true, please know we are thinking about you during this time and are here, muddling through this situation with you from afar. If you would like to connect with another human outside of your household, please feel free to contact Jess at or through our social media accounts at FacebookInstagram or Twitter. We’ll continue to try sharing content that is uplifting, nostalgic and informative to help pass the time.

If you are in a position to help the Museum navigate the next few months with a financial contribution, we would be very grateful.

Take care and stay healthy.

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