Montreal

Quebec's museums, libraries and drive-ins can reopen May 29

It won't be business as usual when museums open their doors. They will not be permitted to host vernissages or other events, nor will they be permitted to hold guided tours.

Services will be limited, and visitors must keep their distance

Guided tours will not be permitted when Quebec's museums reopen. (Mikaël Theimer/Montreal Museum of Fine Arts)

As restrictions on gatherings, travel and other activities are being gradually eased, Quebecers missing a visit to the museum or night at the drive-in are in luck.

Starting May 29, museums, libraries and drive-in cinemas will be permitted to reopen across the province.

"The nature of culture is being together, going to shows," said Quebec Culture Minister Nathalie Roy, who made the announcement at a news conference Friday in Montreal.

"Art, as we have seen, is good for our health."

But it won't be business as usual when museums open their doors. They will not be permitted to host vernissages or other events, nor will they be allowed to hold guided tours.

Guidelines put out by Quebec's workplace health and safety board, CNESST, also suggest limiting the number of people inside at the same time, to make it easier to ensure visitors can keep a two metre distance from others.

Nathalie Bondil, director of the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, said that this will offer visitors a more "intimate" viewing experience.

Museum director Nathalie Bondil says visitors will be in for a more intimate experience. 0:52

And while museums are allowed to reopen next week, it will take longer for some museums to adapt to those guidelines. In Montreal, the McCord Museum will reopen on June 23 and the Stewart Museum on June 25.

The Musée d'art contemporain de Montréal will announce its reopening plans next week.

The Montreal Museum of Fine Arts has also held off announcing a reopening date, but Bondil said the first exhibit to receive visitors would be the temporary Egyptian mummies installation.

In Quebec City, the Musée national des beaux-arts du Québec (MNBAQ) will reopen on June 29. The MNBAQ's Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera exhibit, which was originally set to close this month, will continue to run until Sept. 7.

"These rules permit a peaceful reconnection with the pleasure of seeing real works of art," said the museum's director, Jean-Luc Murray, in a statement.

Kahlo's 1943 self-portrait, Diego on My Mind (Self-Portrait as Tehuana) is part of the Frida Kahlo, Diego Rivera and Mexican Modernism exhibition at the Musée des Beaux-Arts in Quebec City. The exhibition has been extended until September after the museum had to close for two months this spring due to the pandemic. (Julia Caron/CBC)

The Montreal Holocaust Museum's administration has been working to improve its already extensive online offering so people can explore history from the comfort of home. That effort will continue even after the museum reopens, said spokesperson Sarah Fogg.

"We're looking forward to working on this, to welcoming people back into our museum, but of course, the health and safety of visitors and of staff is of prime importance here," she said.

The museum, as well as the Montreal Botanical Gardens and planetarium, do not yet have a set date for reopening.

No browsing at the library

Libraries across the province will also operate differently when they reopen. The public will only be permitted to access a designated area around service counters, and will not be able to browse the library's book aisles.

Visitors will also not be able to use library computers.

The CNESST recommends, if possible, that returned books are not touched for 24 hours.

Work at recording studios will be able to resume June 1, but under specific conditions. Performers must stay two metres away from one another, and the technical crew cannot exceed five people.

Quebecers will have to wait a while longer to experience a live performance, however. Public health has not yet given the go-ahead for concerts or theatre productions to resume.

"Now is the time more than ever to support our artists, consume our culture," Deputy Premier Geneviève Guilbault said at the news conference.

She said the province recognizes that many artists have lost their way to make a living, as concert halls, stages and film sets have gone silent.

"We have not forgotten you," she said.

With files from Isaac Olson

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