Museum of the Gulf Coast opening soon, other entertainment revenues remain closed

Published 12:18 am Friday, May 1, 2020

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Gov. Greg Abbott’s executive order announcing the first phase of the state of Texas reopening plan goes into effect today.

Executive order GA-18 allows retail stories, restaurants, movie theaters and malls to reopen as long as they operate at 25 percent capacity. Abbott also announced all state libraries and museums would be open starting today.

Public museums and libraries may reopen only if permitted by the local government.

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Jefferson County Judge Jeff Branick revised an amended order earlier this week adopting all current and future orders of the governor, therefore leaving reopening decisions to the governor and individual entities.

The Museum of the Gulf Coast is one such entity choosing to reopen starting Monday.

Museum Director Tom Neal said he wants to use the weekend to fully prepare for visitors.

“I want to be ready for folks and for the museum to be as safe as it can be for every one,” he said. “We already have plenty of sanitizer stations all over the place, which we installed several weeks ago. We also have our service people cleaning throughout the entire museum wiping things down daily.

“Right now we are getting the sneeze guards for the gift shop. With those things in place, we will be flying and going on Monday.”

The 39,000-square foot building hosts a capacity of 700 people. To comply with the 25 percent capacity rule, the museum can host up to 175 visitors at a time.

The kiosks located in the Notable People Hall of Fame and the new interactive 55-inch TVs in the Music Hall of Fame will be off limits to visitors per the governor’s order to keep interactive areas of the museums closed.

Neal said while directors and curators continued to improve the museum during its closure, they are excited to be reopening next week.

The museum will be open Monday through Saturday 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

“We’ve been down at the museum and working from home, but we really do miss the people,” Neal said. “We often draw people from foreign countries, and all over the place, while it may be awhile before we see folks like that again, it’s always neat to see people come in expecting something smaller and seeing their reaction to something bigger. We are just ready and excited to keep telling the positive story of this area.”

At this time, the Marion & Ed Hughes (Nederland), Port Arthur and Groves public libraries will remain closed indefinitely. The Nederland and Groves locations will offer curbside pickup starting Monday.

The local movie venue B&B Theatres, located inside the Central Mall, did not have an opening date to announce prior to The News’ deadline.

Avenue Axe, which borders between an entertainment, sports and bar venue, will remain closed.

Owner Brett Reeves said he was hoping to be on the latter side of the order, but will continue to use the time for renovations and improvements of the venue.

“We are kind of an anomaly,” he said. “We technically fall under the bowling alley category, but we also sell beer, which falls under the bar portion, but, unfortunately, we aren’t opening this weekend. We are hoping by May 18 we will be open under the next phase. We want to open as soon as we can.”

Other interactive amusement venues such as bowling alleys and video arcades were not included in Phase I.

Port Arthur bowling alley Max Bowl, located at 3500 Regional Drive, will remain closed until further notice.