Museums join efforts to help key workers and vulnerable communities

Initiatives launched to fundraise for health service and donate vital protective equipment
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Geraldine Kendall Adams
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Museums and galleries have been pitching in to support health and social care services as well as vulnerable communities during the coronavirus pandemic. 
Many institutions have donated protective gear such as disposable gloves and masks to frontline health and care workers, who have been affected by a critical shortage in equipment since the pandemic began. 
Historic England has donated 5,000 pairs of disposable gloves from the Historic England Archive to six British Legion care homes in England. The organisation’s investigative science team has also donated 1,000 pairs of gloves to the NHS. 
A spokeswoman for Historic England said: “We’re glad to be able to pitch in and help in a small way during these unprecedented and challenging times.” 
Protective equipment stocks can be donated via the Medical Supply Drive UK
God’s House Tower, the newly opened cultural venue in Southampton, is planning to donate the proceeds from its weekly Old Town Bingo game to the NHS. The pub-style game is played online every Friday night. 
Meanwhile the artist Michael Craig-Martin has designed a “colour your own” downloadable poster for children to put on their windows as a way of thanking the NHS during the lockdown. The artist has teamed up with the Cristea Roberts Gallery to sell a limited edition of the print, with all proceeds going to the NHS.
Children across the world have been hanging rainbows in their windows to show support for key workers, and the Harris art gallery in Preston has launched an online exhibition of these as part of its first virtual exhibition. 
As well as donating masks and gloves to the Birmingham’s university hospital, Birmingham Museums Trust has donated antibacterial wipes to Birmingham Samaritans, helping the branch to remain open so volunteers can continue to assist vulnerable people throughout the crisis. 
The Edwardian Tearooms at Birmingham Art Gallery and Museum has been working with a local food blog to distribute soup and bread to local charities and hostels that offer shelter and support to vulnerable people.
The trust has also converted the gift shop at one of its properties, Sarehole Mill, into a small food shop providing essential goods to the local community. 
Elsewhere, museums that were left with thousands of unused chocolate eggs bought in for the Easter season have donated them to local food banks. The RAF Museum Cosford and Abington Park Museum in Northampton are among those that donated their Easter eggs to families in need. 
More information on how museums and galleries can help during the crisis is available here.

Museums and galleries with access to 3D printers and laser cutters may be able to assist in a campaign to create visors for frontline healthcare workers.
The Big Print campaign, which is led by 3D Crowd UK, a community of makers based in the UK, provides an open source design for single-use face shields that can be produced by anyone with the raw materials and a 3D printer. Furloughed workers have been invited to join in with production of the visors.
 


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