Ottawa museums set to reopen as Ontario enters Step 3

With Ontario’s early move into Step 3 of its reopening plan, some Ottawa-area museums plan to welcome visitors back at the end of this week.

National Gallery, Museum of Nature open to visitors Friday, War Museum on Saturday

People walk in the National Gallery of Canada in Ottawa last July. The gallery is reopening to visitors on Friday after a lengthy closure. (Justin Tang/Canadian Press)

Good news for those who want to stand face-to-face with Rembrandt, or count the teeth of the mighty Daspletosaurus — Ontario's early move into Step 3 of its reopening plan means Ottawa-area museums can reopen for the first time in months.

The National Gallery of Canada and the Canadian Museum of Nature have confirmed they will open to visitors on Friday, and the Canadian War Museum plans to reopen Saturday.

Under the third phase of Ontario's reopening plan, museums may reopen at 50-per-cent capacity indoors and 75-per-cent capacity outdoors.

Visitors to the Canadian War museum will need to pre-book their visit, and the National Gallery says it will timestamp tickets to ensure the exhibits are kept below capacity.

The gallery also announced free admission for Indigenous people, as well as caregivers accompanying visitors with a disability. Tickets will be pre-sold starting Wednesday.

In a news release, the gallery said it will reopen with more than 100 works of the renowned Dutch painter Rembrandt, including his iconic self-portrait.

The exhibit also includes the first-ever Canadian showing of Rembrandt's "Blinding of Samson," according to the release.

A sticker asks people to stay two metres apart at the Canadian Museum of Nature last fall. The museum is also reopening Friday. (Sean Kilpatrick/Canadian Press)

Other museums to announce opening dates this week

It's not yet clear when some other national museums will reopen. The Canada Science and Technology Museum said they would confirm their reopening date sometime this week.

The Canadian Museum of History, based in Gatineau, Que., has been open to visitors since June 2. It's currently hosting an exhibition of Egpytian artifacts, including the sarcophagi of "legendary" queens like Nefertiti and Hatshepsut.

Most museums have been shuttered since April's wave of COVID-19 cases. Some museums and galleries have pushed for earlier reopenings as they have faced a bleak year of plummeting revenue.

Visitors should expect a slightly more controlled experience than years past. Some interactive exhibits will remain closed, and visitors will be asked to physically distance and observe public health restrictions.