Ah, September. Days are getting shorter, there’s a crispness in the air, the football season is underway, and kids are back in school. At the Science Museum, the summer rush has passed and the field trip season hasn’t yet started. It’s the perfect time for us to spruce up our space and get ready for the fall and winter seasons – and that’s just what we do each year.
The Science Museum and Omnitheater are closed for annual maintenance from September 10-14 and from September 17-20 for our annual September Shutdown Period. During this time, we'll do some deep cleaning and maintenance projects that would be disruptive to the visitor experience during regular hours.
The galleries and Omnitheater may be free from visitor traffic, but they’re anything but quiet. Check out a small sampling of the kinds of work we’ll be squeezing into September Shutdown this year.
Conservation and care
The beloved Triceratops is unique in that it’s one of only a handful of complete specimens in the world, but it collects dusts just like the knick-knacks in your living room. Thankfully, our conservation staff has the tools and expertise to care for it and its prehistoric gallery-mates.
September Shutdown is the perfect opportunity for our experts to clean our objects and specimens, perform repairs, and check and re-check the integrity of the items that you know and love. On any given day during Shutdown, you might find them cleaning and inspecting the Quetzalcoatlus in the lobby, dusting the Plexiglas inside the Mississippi River Gallery’s Itasca diorama, or giving the trumpeter swans a much-needed wipedown. Conservation work is never really finished, though; it continues year-round, either in the lab or on the exhibit floor outside of public hours.
Making way for the next traveling exhibit
Traveling exhibits often come to a close on Labor Day. September Shutdown provides our crew with the perfect opportunity to pack up one exhibit and prep the space for the next one. This year, the team will ship this past summer’s Towers of Tomorrow with LEGO® Bricks exhibit to its next venue and get the U.S. Bank Great Hall ready for this fall’s The Machine Inside: Biomechanics exhibit (opens October 12).
The Omnitheater is always busy during September Shutdown, a prime time for deep-cleaning, dust prevention, and important dome and projector maintenance. It’s all hands on deck for the crew and their guest contractors, who will use special equipment to vacuum the rear of the dome and tighten all of its hubs. Omnitheater staff will also remove all the giant prints from storage and deep clean the storage area to ensure that the film library isn’t damaged by dust or other contaminants.
Our Exhibit Maintenance team takes advantage of September Shutdown to ensure that all the hands-on components throughout the galleries are in tip-top condition. Past projects have included inspecting the Ping Pong Ball Launcher in the lobby, draining and performing detailed maintenance on the Wave Tank, and cleaning and tuning up the gears, fans, and motors that power components like the tornado and wind tubes. This year, they’ll do a thorough cleaning of the Seismofon, the huge musical sculpture that hangs above Chomp.
Our partners at Lancer Hospitality serve hundreds of thousands of visitors each year. Lancer staff traditionally use our Shutdown Period to service kitchen equipment, do large scale plumbing and repair projects, and deep clean the event spaces so they’re ready for this fall and winter’s meetings, banquets, and receptions.
Building Maintenance and custodial projects
Our custodial and engineering teams will also be working hard during shutdown. Projects vary from year to year, but often include window cleaning, light bulb replacement, fire damper testing, handicap door testing, touch-up painting, fan repairs, plumbing work, roof drain inspection, and electrical work, as well as things like carpet shampooing and replacement, floor waxing and sealing, and concrete repair.
The museum will be open for business on September 15 and 16, and we'll be back to business as usual on Friday, September 21.
Keep an eye on our social media channels for some behind-the-scenes sneak peeks at some of the work that happens during Shutdown – it’s work that keeps this museum running smoothly all year long!