On Monday, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott announced that he would let the state’s stay-at-home restrictions expire at the end of April and allow movie theaters, retail stores, restaurants, museums, libraries and malls to reopen at 25% capacity May 1.


In Austin, museums on Monday reacted to Abbott’s announcement. The Blanton Museum of Art, which is part of the University of Texas at Austin, released the following statement Monday afternoon.


"We are looking closely at the governor’s orders in order to make the best decision. The Blanton Museum of Art at The University of Texas at Austin is committed to fulfilling its mission in a manner that protects the safety and health of museum staff and visitors. During its temporary closure due to the pandemic, the Blanton has prioritized serving our community with digital museum resources and preparing protocols to safeguard museum staff and visitors upon its eventual reopening. We will reopen when we are able to properly institute these protective measures and in accordance with The University of Texas at Austin guidelines."


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Margaret Koch, director of the Bullock Texas State History Museum, said the museum would also look to heed Abbott's order.


"The Bullock Museum will be working to implement the Governor's recommended measures and will re-open to the public once we can assure visitors we're doing our part to prevent the spread of COVID-19 while providing a great museum experience," Koch said. "We'll be excited to welcome visitors back through our doors then. In the meantime, follow the museum on our website and social media for updates and online learning opportunities at TheStoryofTexas.com."


Nicole Chism Griffin, spokeswoman for The Contemporary Austin, said the museum is also making plans for its potential reopening.


"The Contemporary Austin staff has spent the past few weeks building out site-specific safety and sanitation plans for both of the museum’s locations — The Contemporary Austin - Laguna Gloria and The Contemporary Austin - Jones Center downtown — so we will be ready when and if it seems safe to begin to reopen incrementally," she said. "This would happen in phases, and would begin by allowing more staff to come back to the museum to do their jobs to continue caring for the art, the natural areas, and the facilities that make up our two museum locations, along with securing the supplies we need to safely reopen. The museum would then open at a reduced capacity, much like Governor Abbott describes."


She added that in the meantime the museum will continue "to refine our plans so that when we do open in any capacity, we will feel confident that we are doing so in a way that will keep visitors as safe as possible. The arts are a vital part of the life of a community, and museums provide a place of solace, reflection, fellowship and enjoyment during the best of times — and even more during times of stress such as this. We look forward to welcoming the public back to enjoy art and nature in our spaces as soon as we feel it will be safe."


Sarah Story, executive director of the Umlauf Sculpture Garden and Museum, located near Zilker Park, said the museum also looks forward to reopening.


"This closure has been financially devastating for the UMLAUF, we are ready to safely reopen in accordance with the guidelines laid out in Texas Health and Human Services as soon as the City of Austin deems it appropriate," Story said. "I can’t wait to welcome our community back into the museum and gardens very soon."