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Willa Cather Foundation - Red Cloud Nebraska (NE)

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Safely Visiting the National Willa Cather Center

Safely Visiting the National Willa Cather Center

Monday, July 13, 2020

Our Doors Are Open

As of July 16, 2020, we welcome guests to visit the National Willa Cather Center. Your visit will be different due to the spread of COVID-19, but ensuring the safety of our guests, staff, and volunteers remains a top priority. In conjunction with directed health measures and recommendations by health agencies at the local, state, and federal level, the National Willa Cather Center has adjusted its operations to provide a safe opportunity to explore Willa Cather’s world.

What is Different?

The Museum is open from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Thursday through Saturday.

Visitor Experience: In accordance with a directed health measure for Nebraska’s South Heartland region, the Museum cannot operate at full occupancy during the outbreak, but ample space for social distancing is achievable throughout the bookstore, art gallery, and exhibit space.

Galleries/Spaces: The Bookstore, Art Gallery, and Exhibit Room are open for guests to enjoy.

Tours: Guests are encouraged to book in advance for guided prairie, town, and country tours. Guided historic site tours are currently unavailable. Self-guided walking tour maps of Cather-related sites are available at no cost.

Hygiene and Cleaning: In accordance with CDC Recommendations, it is necessary for staff and guests to practice distancing of at least 6 feet, wash and/or sanitize hands upon entering the building, and wear masks in all public spaces. Hand sanitizing stations and disposable masks are available at the entry to the Museum. Cleaning using CDC-rated products will occur at an increased frequency. Staff and guests are required to remain home in the event of illness or fever.

Lodging: Lodging at the Cather Second Home is available at a limited capacity. Please call our office to determine if occupancy levels have been reached, or you may book through AirBnB.

Archival Research: Archival research may be conducted by pre-arranged appointment; at this time, the archives are open Thursday and Friday from 9:00 - 4:00 p.m. for research. Digital access may be available by pre-arrangement as well. Capacity may be limited, and masks will be in use.

Guest Amenities: Hand sanitizing stations and disposable masks are available at the Museum entrance.

Frequently Asked Questions

WHY ARE HISTORIC SITES CLOSED? Because the interpretation of historic sites takes place in small spaces and in groups, we will be re-evaluating our tours to enable social distancing in the sites. We hope to make the necessary changes and re-open for tours soon.

DO I NEED TO BUY MY TOUR TICKET IN ADVANCE? Because we’re offering limited tours at this time, we recommend that you pre-arrange your visit in advance with our education coordinator, Rachel Olsen, at Our country and prairie tours may be affected by weather conditions, so we encourage payment on the day of your visit, but you may pre-pay if you would like a no-contact payment option.

I’M A MEMBER OF THE MUSEUM, CAN I STILL VISIT? Absolutely! Like all guests, we would encourage you to book in advance if you wish to take a guided prairie or country tour.

WHY DO I NEED TO WEAR A MASK WHEN I VISIT? Aside from the Center for Disease Control (CDC) recommendation to wear cloth face coverings when going out in public, a majority of our frontline staff are at higher risk for severe illness from COVID-19. Their safety and peace of mind is of utmost importance to us.

ARE YOU STILL DOING PROGRAMS? Our performing arts programs have been cancelled since March, with tentative plans to resume our season schedule in August depending on recommendations and directed health measures issued by state and local officials. There are virtual galleries accessible on our website, and we are working on adding even more interactive virtual programs.

ARE YOU STILL DOING EVENTS RENTALS? We are doing event rentals with added restrictions on capacity, use of on-site audio/visual equipment, food and beverage service, and use of personal protective equipment. Specific requirements related to event rentals and COVID-19 are contingent on the nature of the event. Please contact our business and finance manager to schedule an event rental.

ARE YOU STILL SCHEDULING GROUP OR SCHOOL TOURS? Those who wish to schedule a group tour in advance are welcome to make tentative reservations with the education coordinator, with the understanding that even reservations made months in advance are subject to change. At this time, we can offer groups of six or fewer guided tours of the prairie and outdoor country sites via travel in a vehicle separate from a tour guide.

HOW WILL MY OVERNIGHT STAY AT THE CATHER SECOND HOME BE ALTERED? The Cather Second Home is available for a single booking or travel group at a time. Guests are still welcome to use common areas, but we ask that those lodging at the guest house refrain from entering spaces that are not the rooms they reserved for their stay. Upon booking, guests will receive a confirmation detailing our COVID-19 precautions. A one-day cleaning period between rentals will ensure ample time to ready the house between bookings. Guests can stay a single night or take advantage of a discounted nightly rate for booking two or more nights.

I’M NOT COMFORTABLE VISITING AT THIS TIME, IS THERE SOMETHING ELSE I CAN DO? Of course! We have virtual tour resources and videos on our website, as well as virtual art gallery exhibits. Our online bookstore is also a convenient way to shop for your favorite Cather novel, and if you are in the area but prefer activities that are entirely self-guided, there are online maps of our tour itineraries available, too.

I CAN’T WEAR A MASK FOR MEDICAL REASONS OR CHOOSE NOT TO WEAR A MASK. CAN I STILL VISIT? We recognize that some people may have difficulties with mask wearing; acceptable alternatives include facial coverings like buffs and gaiters, as well as barriers like clear face shields. Covering of mouth and nose is required in the National Willa Cather Center only; our guided tours currently being offered outdoors do not require you to wear a mask, and of course you are welcome to do a self-guided tour too! Materials for self-guided tours are available outside our building, and to schedule a guided tour, please contact our education coordinator, Rachel Olsen, at

March 16, 2020

An Important Message Regarding the Coronavirus (COVID-19):

The National Willa Cather Center, our historic sites, and our guest house are closed until further notice. In the wake of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, we believe the most responsible thing we can do is practice social distancing in an effort to protect the well-being of our volunteers, staff, and the broader community. Most of our staff will be working remotely and will continue to be accessible by email. Our phone line will remain open and we will direct your calls as we are able to do so.

We continue to monitor the disease prevention guidance from the CDC, the State of Nebraska, and our South Heartland District Health Department and will plan our re-opening accordingly.

We will not be taking lodging reservations at the Cather Second Home Guest House at this time.

For the past year, our Spring Conference planning team has worked to develop an exciting and innovative Spring Conference celebrating the publication centenary of Youth and the Bright Medusa. After careful thought and in light of our current travel- and event-related restrictions, the team has begun reimagining our conference and has made the decision to embrace innovation fully by offering our Spring Conference digitally for the first time. We believe that, though some things will be different, this is an opportunity for us to make our conference even better in the future. We hope you'll take part!

We encourage you to engage with our existing digital resources:

  • Take a virtual tour of Willa Cather’s Red Cloud, including the Willa Cather Childhood Home, Red Cloud Opera House, Burlington Depot, and Willa Cather Memorial Prairie.
  • Read recent and past issues of the Willa Cather Review, a leading source for Cather-related features, scholarship, and news.
  • Listen to or watch a marathon reading of Willa Cather’s My Ántonia.
  • Get to know Anna Sadilek Pavelka through the tender memories of her descendants in our “Remembering Ántonia” video series.
  • Keep your home library well stocked with books from our online store.

If you have any questions on any aspect of our revised planning, here is some specific contact information:

We appreciate and thank you for your support. Nonprofits and cultural organizations will depend even more on supporters like you in the coming months, and we will continue to provide a needed refuge and reaffirming sustenance in a changing world.

Thank you and take good care.


Ashley Olson
Executive Director