Museums could reopen with one-way routes and new audiences, guidance says

Museums will have an opportunity to engage with new audiences when they reopen, new guidance says.

Galleries and museums in England have been given the green light to open their doors from July 4.

Timed tickets, cashless payments and social distancing will be in place.

Museums can consider one-way routes and review the use of audio guides.

Director of Tate Modern Frances Morris
Director of Tate Modern Frances Morris (Dominic Lipinski/PA)

Some exhibitions may no longer be viable and alternatives may need to be developed, the guidance, published by the National Museum Directors’ Council – with Government support, says.

It also adds that, without the usual influx of tourists, “there may be opportunities to engage more diverse audiences or those who have not traditionally visited in the past.

“Increased visits from the local community may be a focus.”

It comes after Tate Modern director Frances Morris said the gallery would look at the “hyper-local”, telling Front Row: “There is a moment to pause here, to think, ‘Have we got our priorities right in who we are addressing?'”

Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden
Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden (Pippa Fowles/10 Downing Street/Crown Copyright)

The new guidance says it may be that “audiences’ cultural appetites and ‘intent to visit’ will be altered, with some research showing that many visitors are likely to ‘wait and see’ how organisations handle reopening”.

Visitors may find “a visibly different experience of the museum”, it says, with more prominent invigilation, ropes and partitions.

Shops and cafes can reopen in line with guidance for food businesses and retail spaces.

Museums may want to extend opening hours to enable more visits while enabling distancing measures, but this will impact on costs.

Separate guidance also outlines how heritage attractions and historic buildings can reopen.

At heritage sites, deep cleaning and floor markings “are all required to be completed in a way that does not damage the historic fabric of the buildings”.

Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden said: “Our museums, galleries and heritage attractions are world-class and this guidance will help get these sectors back up and running.

“It will not only pave the way for beloved institutions to welcome back visitors but also support important preservation to protect our historic buildings and ancient artefacts.

“The reopening of these sectors will help to boost local economies all over the country and ensure our national heritage is safe and open for all.”

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