Ardmore museum again closed as COVID-19 threatens volunteer safety

Michael D. Smith
The Daily Ardmoreite

The COVID-19 pandemic has again shut the doors of an Ardmore museum complex in an effort to protect volunteers. The Greater Southwest Historical Museum made the announcement on Friday after about three months of being reopened. 

“It’s not good to hear but I’ve got to protect my volunteers,” said museum director Wesley Hull.  

A sign on West Broadway Street directs motorists to the Greater Southwest Historical Museum on Friday, Sept. 4, 2020. After closing for over a year due to the pandemic, the museum complex reopened in May with limited hours. Museum Director Wesley Hull on Friday, Aug. 27, 2021, again closed the museum as COVID-19 remains a threat in southern Oklahoma.

He said most of his roughly 15 volunteers at the museums are elderly or at-risk for developing severe COVID-19 disease. With public health data showing the Delta variant of COVID-19 accounting for most new cases in Oklahoma and a guestbook filled with signatures from 23 states and three overseas countries, Hull said many members of his board and staff were supportive of the move to temporarily close. 

Hull also cited local hospital capacity across the region being stretched thin as a reason for the temporary closure and the museum is expected to remain closed for several weeks. Information gathered by Hull predicts numbers to peak around October, but he plans to continually monitor local trends to determine when and how to safely reopen. 

The GSHM along with the Military Memorial Museum and the Carter County Genealogy Library originally closed on March 12, 2020, as the pandemic first threatened southern Oklahoma. The doors to the complex remained locked for more than a year until the museums reopened in late May with limited hours. 

The Wilson Historical Museum in Carter County also closed to the public early in the pandemic but reopened on Saturdays when the number of active cases in the county fell below 50 in May. When cases rose in June, the Wilson museum again closed. 

This week, the Oklahoma State Department of Health reported 263 active cases of COVID-19 in Carter County.