When will London museums and galleries reopen and what safety measures will they take post-lockdown?27th May 2020, 3:13 pm
As museums and galleries around Europe begin cautiously to open their doors again, many in London wonder when the same will happen for us.
Like all other sectors of the creative industries, cultural institutions have been hit hard by the pandemic, and there’s only so much satisfaction you can get from looking online at an exhibition you’ve been waiting months to see in the flesh.
So much still depends on how effectively the coronavirus pandemic’s hold on the UK is brought under control, and the successful reopening of these venues will come down to how well we enact social distancing measures.
Here’s what we know so far about when London’s museum and gallery closures could end.
When will London museums reopen?
According to plans laid out by the government for easing the lockdown, larger arts venues, including museums and galleries, would fall under the bracket of “higher-risk businesses” due to the amount and proximity of people. The lockdown on these will continue until at least July 4, and after this only “some” venues will be reconsidered for opening, conditional on the progression of the virus and its impact on the NHS.
However, the prime minister has since announced that non-essential shops would be allowed to open in June if customers observe social distancing – smaller commercial venues and auction houses fall into this category.
The opening of larger venues depends on their ability to implement safety measures. That said, Elaine Bedell, CEO of the Southbank Centre – which houses the Hayward Gallery – has said that the building could remain closed until April 2021.
There is a risk that smaller, independent galleries and museums will not be able to survive such extended periods of closure and will not be able to operate with the reduced number of visitors required to enact social distancing properly – venues such as the Florence Nightingale Museum and Dr Johnson’s House are in need of support.
How will the museums ensure safety?
Museums in Europe are adopting safety measures as they begin to open. The essential use of masks, hand sanitiser and reminders of keeping well apart from other visitors are necessary.
Some museums are also taking the temperatures of visitors before they enter the building and putting up markers for how far away people should be from one another.
The reopening of London museums and galleries will depend on the venues’ capacity to bring in these measures.
Which exhibitions have postponed opening?
The National Gallery’s major exhibition on the work of 17th century painter Artemisia Gentileschi was the first to be postponed, with an assurance it would be back in the future. It’s other display Titian: Love, Desire, Death, which had just three days before the gallery shut and was planned to close in June, has been announced to reopen “when the gallery does”. However, to accommodate this, the Raphael exhibition, due to run from October-January 2021, will now be delayed until 2022.
Published: 27th May 2020Tags: Love and Liberation
Categorised in: Article