National Gallery prepares to open its doors 111 days after closure

The National Gallery will be the first of the UK’s big museums to reopen – but all visits must be booked in advance.

After 111 days of closure, the world-famous institution, in Trafalgar Square, will be up and running again on July 8.

And Tate also said it plans to reopen all four of its galleries – Tate Britain, Tate Modern, Tate Liverpool and Tate St Ives – later in the month, on July 27.

Last week, Boris Johnson told the House of Commons that museums and galleries in England can welcome visitors from July 4.

New rules will be in place at the National Gallery after the almost 200-year-old institution spoke to counterparts in Europe and the US about their experience of reopening.

A major change will see all visits booked online and in advance.

And instead of meandering through the vast Gallery, visitors will follow one or two of three one-way art routes.

National Gallery director Gabriele Finaldi said it was “hugely exciting” to be reopening and “symbolic” to be the “first among the national museums”.

Tate Modern
Tate Modern (John Walton/PA)

“We want to be a part of the nation’s recovery story and by opening the doors and letting the public back in to see our inspiring pictures, we want to make an important contribution to the process.”

He added: “We are the same Gallery you know and love, just with added social distancing and one-way art routes.”

There will be a separate entrance and exit and two-metre social distancing measures in place throughout.

Visitors are recommended to wear a face covering while at the Gallery, which will have shorter opening hours.

An “enhanced cleaning regime will be in operation” and “higher efficiency filters in the air-conditioning system” have been installed, increasing the flow of fresh air.

Experience #AndyWarhol from home! Before the galleries closed we filmed some of the exhibition's best bits—get ready to escape to another decade & step into the life of a pop art superstar 🕶️🥫👄🍌 Full tour: https://t.co/MZ3I2nur94

In partnership with @BofA_Businesspic.twitter.com/CAyBovCLzN

— Tate (@Tate) April 6, 2020

Booking in advance in necessary to help “manage the number of people in the Gallery, limit queueing and reduce contact,” the Gallery said.

Tate also said that all visitors, including members, must book a timed ticket online beforehand.

Tate Modern will reopen with its Andy Warhol show and Kara Walker’s Hyundai Commission Fons Americanus, a 13-metre-high fountain and “counter-memorial” exploring the interconnected histories of Africa, the US and Europe.

Tate director Maria Balshaw said: “Art and culture play vital roles in our lives, and many of us have been craving that irreplaceable feeling of being face-to-face with a great work of art.

Tate Britain
Tate Britain (Aaron Chown/PA)

“Our number one priority remains that everyone stays safe and well, so we will continue to monitor the situation in the weeks ahead, work closely with Government and colleagues, and make all the changes necessary for a safe reopening.”

The Royal Academy Of Arts will open to the public on July 16, initially for four days a week – Thursday to Sunday.

Its secretary and chief executive Axel Ruger said: “Galleries should be places of community – providing solace, inspiration and enjoyment – and we are pleased to be able to offer this once more.

“When we reopen, visitors will be able to catch a final glimpse of our beautiful Picasso And Paper exhibition, and, as visitor capacity will be greatly reduced due to social distancing, it will be an opportunity for a quieter, more contemplative experience in the galleries.”

The exhibition Titian: Love, Desire, Death will reopen at the National Gallery and has been extended until mid-January after it previously closed just three days into its run.

National Gallery visits can be booked at www.nationalgallery.org.uk.

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