Museums

Children's Museum Temporarily Closes Because of Mask Violations

Mask-wearing kids at the Children's Museum of Denver.
Linnea Covington
Mask-wearing kids at the Children's Museum of Denver.
No mask, no fun — at least, not at the Children's Museum of Denver.

On January 25, the institution at 2121 Children's Museum Drive announced in an email to customers that it is closing its doors until Saturday, February 5, because of guests violating the institution's mask policy and being rude to staff.

"Some guests who object to the Museum’s mask policy have been inappropriately directing their anger toward our staff," the email states. The idea of the closure is to "bolster our policies with the hope of preventing this type of behavior in the future."

According to president and CEO Michael Yankovich, the museum needed to give its staff "space to take a step back."

"Objections to our mask policy have been increasingly directed at our staff in inappropriate ways, making it difficult to provide the type of welcoming and playful experience families expect when they visit the Museum," he states. "It became apparent that the only way to address the issue was through a temporary closure. ... Our team will work their regularly scheduled hours and use this time to examine ways to support each other and bolster our policies in hopes of ensuring the Museum is a safe place for both our community and staff."

As expected, parents are not happy about the museum closing.

"It's incredibly disappointing that the staff has been subjected to backlash for supporting the well-being of others," says Denver parent Christine Le Raimond, whose children are ages one and three. "I go often with my little ones and feel safe because they have been enforcing the mask policy, but you will see just a few families who don’t want to mask."

In December, the City and County of Denver extended a public-health mask mandate, which is in effect until February 3. It states that face coverings are required for everyone age two and older in all public indoor spaces.

"The Children's Museum, the Denver Zoo and other institutions are trying to do our part to keep the community safe," says Denver Zoo spokesperson Jake Kubie. "We have been lucky that our guests have been on board and complied, but we are also fortunate because we are mostly outdoors."

While no other institution has closed because of rule breakers or rude visitors, there have been incidents of animosity surrounding the mask mandate.

"We're grateful to the majority of our guests who wear their masks while visiting," says Ed Scholz, vice president of finance and business operations at the Denver Museum of Nature & Science. "I can't speak highly enough about our dedicated staff, who work tirelessly to provide a great experience. Though on rare occasions, we do have to escort folks who do not follow mask rules out of the museum."

On the other side of the debate, some places have appeared not to enforce the mandate, including the Downtown Aquarium. The Denver Department of Public Health and Environment also received numerous complaints that the National Western Stock Show did not enforce masking.

In its notice, the Children's Museum offers thanks to members and visitors who have respected its mask policy, adding: "We are sorry that the unacceptable behavior of others means you cannot enjoy the Museum at this time."