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Austin museums starting to reopen more than a month after getting the go-ahead

"Being able to reopen and to share these stories and be a place where conversation can happen and hopefully civil discourse," said executive director Rowena Dasch.

AUSTIN, Texas — Some Austin museums are just starting to reopen despite Gov. Greg Abbott giving them the go-ahead more than a month ago in early May.  

"We need art," said art lover Janie McClanchie. "We need art in our lives." 

McClanchie took a trip all the way from San Antonio to check out the Mexic- Arte Museum in Downtown Austin.

"When I heard that they were going to open, I invited a whole bunch of my friends and I told them we have to come do a day out of it," said McClanchie.

Mexic-Arte workers said the museum just reopened two weeks ago even though they got the go-ahead from the governor on May 1.

The Neil-Cochran House Museum near UT's West Campus also recently opened two weeks ago. The museum's executive director Rowena Dasch said once they were able to get masks, disinfectants and upgrade their filters, she felt confident about re-opening. 


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"We don't have a lot of touchscreens, interactive displays and the volume of people that we see even on a really busy day is not that large," explained Dasch.

Dasch said slaves built the house museum, which has the last standing slave quarters in Austin. With calls for equality for the black community across the country, Dasch said the museum is a good place to expand the ongoing conversation. 

"Being able to reopen and to share these stories and be a place where conversation can happen and hopefully civil discourse," said Dasch. "We can all learn together, which is really meaningful." 

Even though some of the smaller museums are reopening, larger ones like The Contemporary Museum and Bullock Texas History Museum are still closed due to coronavirus concerns. 

Meanwhile, McClanchie said she is just excited to get a taste of art culture again.

"It's been too long and we have been in such a sad situation that this will bring a little bit of happiness to us," said McClanchie.

Employees at both The Neil-Cochran House Museum and Mexic-Arte Museum said business has been slow. 

"I'm a whole lot more worried about this year," said Dasch. "It's going to be a long time before rentals can start again. It's going be a long time before we can really do in-person programming and admissions are going to be down, down." 

With travel expected to be low in 2020, Dasch said she encourages Austinites to come out and learn about the history of their city. 

WATCH: Museums starting to reopen their doors in Austin


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