Kids museum in San Jose set to reopen

In a sign of things beginning to return to “normal,” the Children’s Discovery Museum of San Jose plans to reopen its indoor space for the first time in 13 months on April 2.

The decision was announced Thursday, March 25, when Santa Clara County moved into the less restrictive orange tier — now joining San Francisco, Marin and San Mateo counties — which allows museums to reopen at 50% capacity under the state’s color-coded pandemic reopening plan. But with an eye toward caution, the Children’s Museum will operate at 25% capacity and gradually build toward 50%, said Executive Director Marilee Jennings.


“We want to use the opportunity to retrain staff on working with visitors and social distancing,” Jennings said. “We felt that starting smaller was the more prudent approach.”

The 52,000-square-foot purple building in downtown San Jose will open with space modifications and other protective protocols such as plexiglass shields at admissions for staff and visitors, contactless ticketing and mask requirements for guests age 2 and older.


The museum will continue its modified cleaning and disinfecting process that requires an hour-long cleaning and disinfecting break between morning and afternoon sessions. Reservations are required for all sessions.

Bill’s Backyard, the museum’s outdoor education space open since March 5, is also open to visitors.


Families at the Children’s Discovery Museum in San Jose. The museum is encouraging people to wear purple in April to celebrate its reopening.
Photo: James Tensuan, The Chronicle 2013

In celebration of the reopening and its 30-year history, the museum is encouraging people to wear purple during the month of April as part of its #PURPLEPLAYDAYS campaign. The Circle of Palms, Post Street and the San Jose Civic Auditorium will also be lit up in purple, through the auspices of the San Jose Downtown Association and Team San Jose.


Reopening the museum “feels so amazing, I can’t begin to tell you,” Jennings said. “We’re just really excited to hear the joyful noise of children in the museum again.”


To that end, the museum will offer a $2 admission rate per person to families that present their SNAP EBT (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Electronic Benefit Transfer) card as part of the national Museum for All program, which provides free or discount admission to institutions throughout the country.


Of course, as with any reopening during a pandemic, albeit one that at least seems to be easing, there’s always a chance that the museum may have to close again.

“We’re just determined to try to move forward, and we’ll take whatever cards are dealt our way,” Jennings said. “Even if it’s just a couple of weeks, some kids got to do something they really, really miss doing.”


Children’s Discovery Museum: 10 a.m.-noon and 1:30-4:30 p.m. Friday-Sunday. $15. Reservations are required.

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