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Covid-19 Dictates Museum Closure


  The Brookings County Museum has cancelled its traditional season opening date of Memorial Day, May 25.

  The culprit is the coronavirus that is coursing across the world.

  Because of that, for the first time in its 50 years of existence in Volga, the Brookings County Museum is adjusting its summer season.

  Its governing board has decided to close the museum through July when it will reassess and decide what the remainder of the museum season will be, according to Phil Wagner of Brookings, museum president.

  “Perhaps we’ll be able to open in late summer and extend our season beyond the normal Labor Day closure date,” Wagner said. “We certainly hope that is the case.”

  Wagner said reaching a decision to set back the museum season has been difficult. “But considering that nearly all of our volunteers and museum visitors are in the most vulnerable category, I believe the board made the correct decision.”

  He noted that Governor Kristi Noem has predicted the peak of the virus will hit South Dakota in June.

  While the threat of the disease is the prime factor in the temporary closure decision, Wagner said, the need for social distancing for the past several months has also impacted the winter work for the complete change-over in the main museum layout that was started last fall.

  “We’ve managed to get considerable work done early on, but we’ve fallen far behind as the spread of the virus advanced to our area,” he said.

  Wagner noted that the opening of the museum’s new web site was, in a way, timely and will help keep the museum electronically available to visitors. “I would encourage everyone to tour the site ( and the considerable historic information it contains,” he said.

  Viewers to can see hundreds of full-color photographs of museum facilities and of items on display, as well as copies of recent Window newsletters with stories and photos about museum activities.

  The site also has two unique time-lapse maps of South Dakota State University and the Brookings community. “They show the physical growth and development of both entities through the years,” Wagner said.

  Museum officials will reevaluate the July closure decision and inform the public of a museum plans later that month.

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