Play is one of the surest ways to alleviate stress and anxiety, which is why many local parents will appreciate the option to return to the Minnesota Children's Museum starting Aug. 1.

The museum will operate with reduced hours, Thursdays through Sundays, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., and reduced capacity of less than the 25% specified by the state's reopening occupancy limits. Visitors will be required to reserve tickets in advance (available starting mid-July) for a specific day and time.

There will also be new safety measures in place, including a mask requirement for ages 5 and over. Museum staff have added air filters, hand-sanitizer stations, and signage to help visitors practice social distancing.

The Children's Museum faced more challenges to reopening than most entertainment venues due to the hands-on nature of its exhibits — not to mention kids' tendency to touch everything they can get their hands on.

As a result, germ-harboring soft props and costumes have been put in storage. And staffers will be sanitizing the rock-climbing wall, restaurant kitchen and other high-touch components on an ongoing basis when the building is open, as well as deep-cleaning when it's closed.

The museum's staff decided that a few activities, such as the beloved face-painting station, inherently failed to meet protocols for reducing virus transmission and had to be temporarily suspended. But other activities, such as the lather-filled car wash, will remain more or less the same.

While it may be challenging for visitors to secure prime-time slots, those who do won't find nearly the competition for flying spaceships or loading postal parcels.

"Our busy days are not going to be nearly as busy as they used to be," said Bob Ingrassia, the museum's head of external relations.

Rachel Hutton • 612-673-4569