A screenshot from Derby Museum's promotional reopening video

Museums turn to film to welcome back visitors

Rebecca Atkinson, 29.07.2020
Our favourite videos from museums in the UK and beyond
Many museums who have reopened their doors to the public are using short videos to raise awareness of new measures put in place to protect staff and visitors from Covid-19 – from one-way routes and queuing systems to hand sanitiser stations.

Despite the seriousness of the operations involved, a touch of humour – and some fantastic costumes – can help turn the average welcome back video into a collections highlight tour and promotional opportunity.

Here are some of our favourite short welcome back films:

The Mauritshuis in the Hague, Netherlands, has let some of the well-known artworks in its collections do the hard work and explain the new measures it has in place. This high-quality welcome back video features the sitters in Rembrandt van Rijn’s The Anatomy Lesson of Dr Nicolaes Tulp all fully masked and socially-distanced animals in Albert Eckhout’s Study of Two Brazilian Tortoises

Many welcome back videos feature staff and volunteers.

The National Football Museum in Manchester's promotional reopening film is narrated by some of its curators, designers and front-of-house staff – including a cameo from director Tim Desmond.

Front-of-house staff head up the welcome back video from National Museums Liverpool, which also features upbeat music and lots of attractive shots of its exhibits and galleries.


Produced using an iPhone and free editing software, the London Museum of Water and Steam has maxed out on the fun factor, producing a funny yet informative video

For some venues, a simple approach works best, using music and captions to explain the new rules 

Some examples include:

York Art Gallery
Gairloch Museum, North West Highlands of Scotland
Middleport Pottery, Stoke-on-Trent
National Museum of Ireland, Dublin
Museum of Royal Worcester

A welcome back video is on opportunity to demonstrate some fabulous historical costumes and live interpretation.The fictional visitor in the National Justice Museum’s short film is dressed as a prisoner from the 1840s.

Featuring shots of the palace’s exterior curves and rich interior design, the Royal Pavilion in Brighton also uses its welcome back video to roll out some 18th century costumes.

Taking mask wearing to a whole new level, the Novium's film features Roman Centurion enjoying a walk round the Chichester museum.

Drawing inspiration from its collections and the stories it tells, the RAF Museum’s welcome back video is narrated by a 1940s flight lieutenant.
 
Trying to make the new rules as simple to understand as possible, and remembering that visiting a museum is normally a fun experience for most people, the customed tour guide in Derby Museum’s reopening film goes heavy on the smiles and petticoats - with a touch of toilet humour.

Finally, despite not yet announcing a reopening date, Steve Gardam, the director of the Roald Dahl Museum in Buckinghamshire, regularly shares personable films on Twitter explaining what's happening there – and why reopening is just not possible at the current time.

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