From 4 July, the UK’s museums and galleries were given the go ahead to reopen to the public, provided that they introduced a raft of measures to ensure social distancing and limit the number of people who were viewing the exhibits.
Now that we’re further into July, how has the reopening of the country’s museums gone? It seems for the most part that visitors have been impressed with what has been put in place in the sector.
The Shropshire Star reported that every person who visited the Ironbridge Gorge museums on their opening weekend said that they would recommend the attraction to friends.
Marketing director at Ironbridge Gorge Museum Trust Roz Chandler commented: “We achieved an average score of 4.7 out of five across nearly 100 responses when we asked people how they rated their visit, which is a real shot in the arm after being closed for more than three months because of the lockdown.”
Among the measures that these attractions have put in place are frequent hand washing and sanitising stations, as well as steps to encourage social distancing.
Writing for the BBC recently, Will Gompertz gave the National Gallery in London a five-star review following his first visit since the establishment reopened.
He explained that the gallery has helpfully created three trails to lead visitors around its exhibits, helping to ensure that people stay socially distanced and follow the one-way systems that are in place around the building.
Mr Gompertz also explained that, although it is still free to visit the National Gallery, visitors now need to book a ticket for a specific time slot to help the museum avoid overcrowding. There are also frequent hand sanitiser stations throughout the gallery.
Each of the three trails that has been laid out through the gallery takes approximately 30 minutes to complete, with visitors free to complete all three if they would like to.
“I was just happy to be back among one of the finest art collections in the world, and grateful to all of those who have made it possible,” he asserted.
Of course, different museums and galleries will need to find different ways of managing visitors and ensuring that people feel safe while browsing paintings and exhibits. For those galleries or museums that have multiple routes, investing in museum barriers is likely to be a good idea to help direct people and ensure they follow any one-way systems that are introduced.
The UK government issued guidance to the sector on 25 June to help them prepare to reopen at the start of July.
Among the other recommendations made by the government are to only accept cashless payments, to introduce spaced out queuing systems and to make sure that regular cleaning regimes are intensified throughout the day.
Heritage sites were given similar guidance, including that they should also introduce a booking system where possible to limit visitor numbers, and to make sure they use markers on the floor to encourage social distancing.
Where possible, the government recommended introducing one-way systems at museums, galleries and heritage sites.