Minnesota Historical Society closes sites & museums through June 30

The Minnesota Historical Society announced it will keep its historic sites, museums and library closed and cancel all in-person events, field trips and rentals through June 30 in response to concerns over COVID-19. 

MNHS will also furlough 274 staff starting May 1 through June 30. According to a release, this represents just under half of the MNHS workforce, with public-facing and part-time staff members being most affected. All staff will be paid through the end of April. 

“These decisions are excruciating for all of us involved,” said Kent Whitworth, director and CEO of MNHS. “We’ve got 26 historic sites around Minnesota from Jeffers Petroglyphs to Split Rock Lighthouse to many in between and these are the people that make history come alive for those guests.”

Whitworth said they expect to lose $2.8M in earned income from April through June. 

“We were heading into prime time with field trip season and tourism season so the timing was the most challenging to our ability to earn revenue.”

When asked when sites may reopen, Whitworth said it may be gradual.

“It won’t be like we’ll flip a switch and everything will be back. We’ll experiment with sites that are a little more open.”

"We know that these kind of occurrences happen about once every 100 years," he added. "We’ve got a new offering called 'History is Now.' We’re encouraging people to share their experiences and reflections even in the midst of this COVID-19 crisis. So we’re trying to be very proactive in collecting stories and we’ll be very proactive going forward collecting the artifacts from this pandemic. It’s very significant from a historical standpoint.”