The Petersen Automotive Museum was one of the first museums to open its doors earlier this month and Spectrum News got a sneak peak.

With sanitizer at the ready and masks mandatory,
Deputy Director Michael Bodell was eager to re-open.  

The Petersen Automotive Museum became one of the first major museums in L.A. County to open its doors on June 19.  In the past, it would typically see as many as 4,000 visitors.

"Now the capacity is locked at about 1,350 guests," Bodell said.

Tickets must be purchased in advanced…either with a computer or using a mobile device and guests will choose a two-hour window to visit.

"Essentially, you’ve got a two-hour block and that’s the natural cycle of people passing through the museum is about 2 hours," Bodell.

Guests also get a free stylus.

"Your experience will start on the 3rd floor, and you can use these to press elevator buttons," Bodell said.

X marks the spot to stand inside the elevators and water fountains are now off limits…so are the racing simulators and the Pixar Discovery Center for children.  It’s been turned into a YouTube studio.

"Educational influencers can come in and use it to shoot their videos, and we’re doing it with our programs as well," Bodell said.

"Throughout the museum, you’ll see pathways that are stanchioned off, so it allows visitors to only go in one direction."

It also eliminates cross-traffic, and sticking with an automotive theme, there are green lights to ensure visitors are going the right way and red for the wrong way.

"From our experience and what we’ve seen, the arrows…they’re not followed and so we want to make it a pleasant experience and almost "gamify" it with the different illuminations," Bodell said.

And the popular underground Vault Tour that showcases some of the most iconic and rare cars in the world will now be self-guided.

"So, as you come in, you’ll have an audio tour that’s paced and it’s in English and Spanish," Bodell said.

"We’ll probably be in the middle of the pack I think," said Lori Bettison-Varga, President and Director of the Natural History Museums of L.A. County.  She says she plans to open the Natural History Museum and La Brea Tar Pits late July or early August.  Her focus right now has been getting her staff safely back in the building.

"With our facilities, particularly older facilities, there’s a lot of operational work that has to be done and we have to do all the cleaning.  So, for us, it’s just really important that we take our time, both for bringing the employees back as well as for making sure that we have everything we need for the public to feel completely comfortable."

She says the museum had a tough time getting necessary supplies and even had to be put on a waitlist for plexiglass.

"We have had people asking when we’re going to open and on our social media when we responded we’ll be open the later this summer, the response has been good.  'We’re glad you’re not rushing it.  Take your time,'" Bettison-Varga said.

As for the Petersen, Bodell credits the museum’s big transformation 6 years ago that upgraded all of the infrastructure for making it easier navigate through this transition.

"It is always a risk as soon as you leave your house to come out and share a space with others," Bodell said.

But after a three month closure, he’s ready once again let guests drive them forward.

"We’re going above and beyond what’s required to make the visit as safe as possible."