Island museums begin to reopen their doors - Museums Association

Island museums begin to reopen their doors

Sites on the Isle of Man and Jersey are the only indoor museums physically open in the British Isles
Covid-19
Francesca Collins
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A Manx Museum Viking demonstrates how to wear a PPE mask
A Manx Museum Viking demonstrates how to wear a PPE mask Manx National Heritage

Museums on the Isle of Man and Jersey have begun to reopen to the public following a relaxation of Covid restrictions.

Manx National Heritage confirmed plans for a phased reopening of two of its sites, the Manx Museum and the House of Manannan, following the Isle of Man’s circuit-breaker lockdown.

Both sites will fully reopen on Saturday 13 February, the start of the half-term break for the island’s schools. The House of Manannan has already partially reopened, inviting visitors into its shop, café and temporary exhibition gallery from Tuesday 2 February onwards.

All schools, non-essential shops and hospitality venues on the Isle of Man were shut for 21 days from Thursday 7 January to help contain the spread of Covid-19.

Edmund Southworth, director of Manx National Heritage, said: “We are very grateful to the Manx public, key workers and our staff team for responding so positively to recent restrictions, helping our island recover and quickly return to a relatively normal way of life.

“Some of our staff team were redeployed to support the medical services and wider community during lockdown, and a side-effect of this is that it will take a little longer to get our staff fully back in place and the sites ready to reopen.”

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Manx National Heritage is the charity responsible for the Isle of Man’s natural and cultural heritage. Its other sites will remain closed until the start of the 2021 season from 27 March onwards, though their free-to-enter coastal and countryside sites remain open for local residents to exercise.

In Jersey, a number of visitor sites reopened on 3 February following restrictions enforced by the island’s government since before Christmas, which included the temporary closure of indoor public areas from 24 December 2020.

Sites managed by Jersey Heritage, which is responsible for the island’s major historic sites, museums and public archives, are now open under winter opening hours. Jersey Museum & Art Gallery, Mont Orgueil Castle and the Maritime Museum & Occupation Tapestry Gallery are open as normal, and Jersey Archive is open to the public with pre-booked slots.

As per normal winter hours some sites remain closed, including Elizabeth Castle, which is only accessible by ferry when the tide is high, Hamptonne Country Life Museum and La Hougue Bie. All sites are scheduled to fully reopen to the public on 17 March.

Ahead of the changes on 3 February, Jersey Heritage opened the outside spaces of Mont Orgueil Castle and La Hougue Bie over weekends to give islanders an opportunity to explore the grounds.

“We were very happy to be able to reopen our sites to the public and extremely grateful to our staff for being on standby for a number of weeks while we waited to hear what would be possible,” said Louise Downie, Jersey Heritage’s director of curation and experience. “They kept the sites clean and ready and it has been a delight to open the gates and welcome visitors back so that they can experience and enjoy the island’s heritage in person.

“We are also continuing to make the most of our online platforms, including our website and our social media channels, to share stories about Jersey’s rich heritage – this is especially important for people who are isolating and those further afield who are unable to visit Jersey at this time.”

Museums across the UK, the Republic of Ireland and the other Channel Islands remain closed.

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