This summer, we launched our Stay Safe Pledge, a set of health and safety guidelines for both businesses and consumers. Our local businesses and hotel partners have taken this pledge, demonstrating their commitment to helping minimize the spread of COVID-19 and keeping us safe and healthy.
In this blog series, we will interview a Discover Saratoga member who has taken the pledge and discuss what actions they have implemented to keep their employees and customers safe. We will also discuss the impact COVID-19 has had on their business and their outlook for the future. Today’s Q&A is with Cate Masterson Johnson, director of The National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame.
What enhanced procedures do you have in place to keep your guests safe?
- A free stylus is given to each visitor to use on the interactive exhibits
- The Museum map to guide visitors through is available on smartphones
- Touchless faucets and hand driers were installed in all bathrooms at the Museum
- The Museum does not offer food or drink, so the guests feel very comfortable with the mandatory face mask rule during their entire visit.
- We have limited guests to a small number for each allotted two hour time block. The Museum is 46,000 square feet, so guests feel safe.
Has COVID-19 affected your volunteer program?
Yes, COVID-19 has affected our volunteer program at the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame. We rely on volunteers to lead tours of the Museum and the Oklahoma Training Track and these tours were not available to the public during the COVID-19 shutdown; therefore, we were not able to offer volunteers their usual hours. We allowed volunteers to come in and act as greeters and answer questions throughout the galleries, but it was not the same experience. In addition, many of our volunteers are older than 65 and did not feel safe entering into the public space of a Museum and interacting with people they did not know. Many of our volunteers have now received one, or both, vaccine shots and are eager to return for the 2021 season!
What are the most common questions you receive from people interested in visiting your museum?
- Do you sell tickets online? Yes, tickets are sold in two-hour increments at www.racingmuseum.org.
- Are you open every day? Yes, we are currently open 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., the hours will be 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. in June.
What changes have you had to make to be sure you are following CDC guidelines?
- All employees and visitors are required to wear a mask.
- A log of employees, contractors, and vendors is maintained with temperature checks and health screenings and is mandatory for all. Employee screenings are filled out at home or in the parking lot before they enter the building to ensure safety.
- A cleaning schedule log that includes the date and time of cleaning with disinfection requirements from the CDC and the Department of Health is kept by the Facilities Manager with frequent cleaning for high-risk and heavy transit areas used by visitors and staff such as handrails, elevator, restrooms.
- The Museum provides hand sanitizing stations throughout the building. The bathrooms all have touchless sinks and hand driers installed for extra safety precautions.
- Acrylic dividers have been installed at the front desk and gift shop registers.
- A Safety Committee that includes key staff and a representative from the insurance company and the Museum’s accountant was formed and meets quarterly. COVID-19 New York state and CDC guidelines are reviewed at every meeting since they are changing constantly. As the guidelines for New York state are loosened, new protocols for Museum rentals or fundraisers are discussed to ensure public safety.
Why should people feel safe coming to your museum?
- All interactive exhibits are touchless, every visitor is given a free stylus to use to enjoy the exhibits.
- Cleaning and sanitizing are done on a regular basis.
- Visitors can purchase tickets in advance online. The Museum limits 24 tickets being sold on a two-hour schedule to ensure social distancing is enforced when they are watching the new Hall of Fame movie and to prevent crowding in other areas of the Museum.
- Markers on the floor remind visitors to social distance and also direct them through the Museum clockwise in a past through present timeline, which avoids bottlenecking and crowding in smaller areas.
What is your outlook for the future?
The Museum is very optimistic for the future and we are excited to show everyone the new renovations and the new Hall of Fame and signature film, "What It Takes: Journey to the Hall of Fame." During the pandemic, the Museum has worked hard to make many of our education programs accessible online including, Foal Patrol, special exhibit tours, education, and Hall of Fame programs. We are also looking forward to resuming important fundraisers for the Museum, facility rentals, Museum tours, education, and community programs.