By Trang Do

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Many of Philadelphia’s popular museums are now reluctantly closing their doors until next year due to new COVID-19 restrictions. However, there are ways people can help keep museums afloat even if they can’t visit.

Several of the city’s most prominent and largest museums have already chosen to close ahead of the city’s Friday mandate. But, today, people got to take in the very last day at the Mütter Museum of a very timely exhibit.

There are lots of eerie sights on the shelves at the Mütter Museum, but perhaps what’s most eerie is an exhibit revisiting the history of a century ago.

“We wanted to check out the museum before everything closes down and hopefully together we can eradicate this thing and reduce this virus,” Daniel McErlane said.

Physical therapy student June Maloney was particularly interested in “Spit Spreads Death,” a timely exhibit revisiting the history of a century ago, when Philadelphia last battled a different, but also devastating pandemic, the “Spanish flu.”

“It’s just interesting how some of the same principles still apply today. We’re socially distanced, wear masks, they wore masks back then. So, it’s important to keep yourself educated,” said physical therapy student June Maloney of Monroeville, New Jersey.

The latest shutdown announcement was a gut punch for the Penn Museum, which like so many other institutions worked hard to implement extensive COVID-19 precautions to reopen after the spring shutdown.

“Very disappointing of course, but completely understand the need to try to slow the spread of COVID-19, so we all have to do our part,” said Melissa Smith, co-interim director of the Penn Museum.

The Penn Museum will remain open to visitors who buy tickets online through Thursday. Beyond that, museums hope their supporters won’t forget about them as they weather this difficult time.

“Stick with us, the college is here to educate and inspire and we’ll be doing so virtually for the next six weeks,” said Jon Goff, director of development at the College of Physicians of Philadelphia. “Come back and visit us in 2021 and in the meantime, take a virtual tour, become a member, come to one of our virtual events and shop in our store.”

In a statement on the mandated closures, Priscilla Luce, interim president and CEO of the Greater Philadelphia Cultural Alliance wrote in part: “It is not hyperbolic to say that without any relief from the city, state, or federal government, this 6-week closure during the holiday season – when local families and visitors traditionally seek out cultural programming – will be devastating.”

Both the Mütter Museum and the Penn Museum will continue to offer extensive online programming while closed to visitors. 

Click here for more information on the Mütter Museum.

For more information on the Penn Museum, click here.

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