Reopening Indoor Attractions and Museums: Insights from CORPUS
CORPUS, the Dutch science center dedicated to the human body, reopened earlier this month with a number of safety measures in place for visitors to its indoor experience. The attraction in Oegstgeest features a guided walking tour through enlarged renderings of the human body enhanced with audio guides, visuals, and light and sound effects that teach guests about how the body works. After the tour, guests experience several interactive exhibits from partners, including the Dutch National Institute for Public Health and Environment.
IAAPA spoke with Huub Lazarom, managing director, about the reopening measures in place at CORPUS with many takeaways for other indoor attractions, science centers, and museums:
Limitations on Visitors
A tour through CORPUS would normally start every 7.5 minutes and included a maximum of 16 guests. In reaction to the coronavirus, the maximum size of every group has been lowered to six people for every tour. Only two people from the same household are allowed to be a couple: you can’t book single tickets. If all time slots are full, with 3 couples each, the total capacity would combine to 37.5% of the regular total capacity.
Because of the restriction on capacity, the profitability of CORPUS is extremely low. Lazarom states, however, that as an experience that deals with the topic of health and the human body and as a distraction from everyday life, the CORPUS team felt they should open nevertheless. None of the running costs were halted and staff costs are partially covered by the Dutch government, it’s more an obligation for CORPUS to remain open.
New Standard Operating Procedures
CORPUS has thought about the entire visitor experience when creating a new way to visit the attraction. It starts in the parking lot: visitors can still park next to each other, but stickers and signs start guiding them to maintain the 1.5 meters of distance the government requires. All tickets have to be bought online. Visitors don’t see this as a problem. Because of the current environment, they’re already used to making reservations for almost anything, and even before COVID-19, it was normal for guests to make an upfront reservation at CORPUS
When the tour starts, visitors receive their audio guide (which includes a headset) and their 3D glasses. Before the pandemic, the glasses would be handed out at a later station of the tour. All these items are completely sanitized between tours. Stickers on the floor during the whole tour keep guests 1.5 meters apart.
To allow for a larger overall capacity, CORPUS is now open seven days a week and not closed on Mondays like they usually would be. Unfortunately, however, the park is missing the guest traffic from school groups.
As CORPUS thought of the measures and adjustments to safely reopen the park, they asked their staff (including students) to attend a test day. Many of the staff (who didn’t participate in the planning of the reopening measures) were tasked with experiencing the tour like it was their first time. Using this method, any flaws in their reopening plan where quickly identified and fixed.
Feedback from visitors to CORPUS has been very positive. The guests appreciate that the museum has reopened and are also very appreciative of the measures taken by CORPUS. The guests are quite used to a 1.5 meter society already and comply with the rules well. CORPUS refrains from acting as the “corona-police,” though, in a friendly manner, staff will remind guests to keep distance if they forget the rules for a moment.
Lazarom mentioned that the resources put out by different associations have helped shape the reopening of CORPUS. The regional association—the “Club van Elf”—released helpful documentation, as well as IAAPA.
Considering Changes for the Future
In the Netherlands, wearing a face mask is only required on public transport at this time. Lazarom has stated he’d love to require wearing a mask when visiting CORPUS, if this could mean the exhibit can once again allow groups of 16 people rather than six.
For more information on managing the impact of COVID-19, visit the IAAPA Resource Center.