We will be closed until further notice. Check this page for the latest information.

Covid-19 Response and FAQ

The Ann Arbor Hands-On Museum is committed to the safety of our visitors and staff.  Currently, the State of Michigan is phasing in the reopening of businesses when essential safety measures have been clearly established. The fundamental nature of the Museum (high-touch, hands-on experiences, coupled with social interactions) makes it especially important that we reopen slowly and cautiously, with as much research and planning as possible, and along with extensive new safety measures in place.

The Museum intends to begin reopening with a few small groups of members being invited in to experience some modified parts of the Museum, including a brand-new health and wellness gallery: All About You!.  Only after we analyze these interactions and make any needed changes will we move forward scheduling other activities with potentially larger groups. We are not currently open for normal business hours.

Here are some of the changes you will find as we reopen for small events in preparation for fully reopening:

  • All visitors must reserve admission tickets online in advance.
  • There will be designated timed sessions to choose from, to carefully control visitor numbers and encourage proper social distancing.
  • Some exhibits will be spaced apart or removed temporarily and some parts of the building will be closed (see FAQs for further details).
  • Drinking fountains and vending machines will be closed, no eating or drinking (except water bottles) will be permitted on site.
  • The Museum staff will conduct a symptom and temperature screening each day before working at the Museum, are required to wear masks while at the Museum, and will wash or sanitize hands frequently throughout the day.
  • Plexi-barriers have been installed at the front desk to provide additional distancing between visitors and staff.
  • Exhibits and frequently-touched surfaces have a vigorous daily cleaning and sanitization schedule. 

Here are some safety expectations for visitors:

  • Do not visit the Museum if you or a household member is sick (or experiencing the following symptoms: cough, fever, chills, shortness of breath, muscle aches, vomiting, diarrhea, or a new loss of taste or smell).
  • Properly worn face masks are required for everyone ages 4 and older.
  • Six-foot social distancing is required between members of different households.
  • Frequently wash and/or sanitize hands.
  • Follow all stated safety procedures, including one-way stairs and elevator trips limited to only one household at a time.

Frequently Asked Questions:

Why aren’t you open?  When will you open?

The global coronavirus pandemic presents us with unprecedented challenges, and we are working hard to find safe and effective ways to meet those challenges. The Museum is designed to be a social experience, filled with tactile learning opportunities for visitors of all ages. Current scientific knowledge about the spread of coronavirus tells us that indoor social gatherings are primary means of spread, and that getting virus on hands and then touching the eyes or mouth can also be a means of transmission. The safety of our visitors and staff are our highest priority, and we are working hard to find ways to reduce the risk. The Museum will open further as we find ways to minimize risk, as new treatments and vaccines become widely distributed, or if there is new scientific understanding about how the disease spreads. We will continue to offer small group experiences as we are able.

Why are my family members, including my children, required to wear masks?

The Ann Arbor Hands-On Museum is following County, City, and State mandates for mask wearing.  The Center for Disease Control (CDC) recommends mask wearing as a best practice for slowing or reducing risk of virus transmission while interacting in public settings.

“...CDC recommends wearing cloth face coverings in public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain (e.g., grocery stores and pharmacies) especially in areas of significant community-based transmission.”

Sources: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prevent-getting-sick/cloth-fac...

How are you handling membership extensions due to your closure?

All membership accounts that were active during the month of March 2020 or later will automatically be extended for the length of the temporary closure due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Our membership team has limited access to our building, but will be sending letters to confirm new expiration dates for members when the Museum reopens. For specific inquiries about your membership, please contact membership@aahom.org.

Why don’t you allow food onsite?

We are temporarily closing our onsite vending and snack area due to the nature of such a high-contact space.  Eating and drinking require that visitors remove their masks, which further compounds risk. We will make an exception for water bottles, and visitors are welcome to bring their own bottles and use our water bottle-filling station in the lobby.  Drinking fountains have been turned off.

Will the Preschool Gallery be open?

Yes, for most events the Preschool Gallery will be open with most of the favorite exhibits, including the ball machine, the climbers, and the water table. However, most of the small toys, puzzles, plastic food, etc. have been temporarily removed.  The exhibits that remain open will have a rigorous daily cleaning schedule of soap and water, sanitizing dips with a bleach solution, and/or spraying with a CDC approved industrial cleaner (Oxivir Five 16). 

How are the exhibits and parts like balls cleaned?

In addition to our normal cleaning to remove dirt and oils, we use a sanitizing solution that has been certified by the EPA to kill coronavirus as well as other viruses and bacteria. Exhibits and high-touch surfaces like hand rails and door knobs are sprayed with the solution and allowed to air-dry.  Small removable parts like balls and other plastic pieces are submersed in a container of solution. We use an environmentally safe hydrogen peroxide-based product called Oxivir Five 16. Source: https://cfpub.epa.gov/giwiz/disinfectants/index.cfm

How is H2Oh! – the water gallery – cleaned?

The H2Oh! Exhibit is designed with several safety features, including a sand filtration system and an UV sterilization system.  The water is drained and replaced multiple times per week, and treated with a mild bromine solution.  All other surfaces and components are disinfected daily.

"There is no evidence that the virus that causes COVID-19 can be spread to people through the water in pools, hot tubs, or water playgrounds. Additionally, proper operation of these aquatic venues and disinfection of the water (with chlorine or bromine) should inactivate the virus." Reference: (add a full URL to the actual page, rather than just the CDC web site home page).

Are the bubble exhibits safe?

The bubble solution we use is a mixture of water and Dawn dish soap. Soap breaks down the virus very effectively. Because of this, it’s actually a very safe space to enjoy as long as families practice safe and respective hygiene practices.

"Soap molecules attach to and disrupt the outer protective lipid (fatty) layer of COVID-19, breaking it apart and destroying the virus." Reference: Mayo Clinic https://newsnetwork.mayoclinic.org/discussion/covid-19-expert-explains-w...

Why are some of the smaller spaces like the 3rd and 4th floors and the Lyons Country Store Exhibit and Michigan Nature closed?

Recent reports about COVID-19 show how important proper ventilation and air flow are. The larger, high-ceiling galleries in the Museum have roof-top HVAC systems with extensive outside air intake.  However, some of the smaller galleries have residential HVAC units and do not have the same level of ventilation. For that reason,  we have decided to keep these areas closed for now.  Reference: World Health Organization. https://www.who.int/news-room/q-a-detail/q-a-ventilation-and-air-conditioning-in-public-spaces-and-buildings-and-covid-19

Why are you limiting the capacity of visitors?

Following the Washtenaw Health Department’s guidelines, we remain well under the required limit to allow proper social distancing. We set our initial limit well below the guidelines in order to allow for proper social distancing and to give our visitors the freedom to move around the space as safely as possible.  We will continue to re-evaluate our capacity as we see how well the visitor flow works.

Will I be able to shop at the Hands-On Store?

Yes, the store will be open during the same hours that the Museum is open. The store is limited to 10 visitors at a time.

Visit Us

220 E. Ann St. 
Ann Arbor, MI 48104

*We will be closed until further notice. Click here for more information.*

Regular Hours:

Monday: 10 - 5
Tuesday: 9 - 5
Wednesday: 10 - 5
Thursday: 10 - 8
Friday: 10 - 5
Saturday:  10 - 5
Sunday: Noon - 5

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