National Museum of Scotland (c) Mike McBey on Flickr / CC BY 2.0

Reopening guidance published for Scottish and Welsh museums

Jonathan Knott, 08.07.2020
Recommendations aim to protect workforces, ensure physical distancing and maintain hygiene
The Scottish and Welsh governments have published guidance for reopening museums and galleries.

The guidance for museums, galleries and heritage attractions in Scotland sets out minimum expectations across key areas including assessing risk, workforce planning, operations, and deliveries and distribution.

First minister Nicola Sturgeon has said she hopes the country can move into phase three of its lockdown exit plan, which will include the reopening of museums, on 9 July.

The Scottish government says plans to re-open a workplace and public areas “should be developed in consultation with the workforce and updated on an ongoing basis”.

It says museums, galleries and heritage attractions should carry out a “robust risk assessment” with the full involvement of their workforce before creating a phased implementation timetable.

Work to be carried out before reopening to reduce risks may include screens, one-way systems, rearranging canteens and providing PPE, says the document. These should be followed by workforce briefings and inductions on the new arrangements.

The guidance also says that working from home should continue where possible, and that travel to work, childcare and health factors – such as workforce living in vulnerable or shielded households – should all be taken into consideration.

A comprehensive operational guide and checklist includes recommendations on areas including enhanced hygiene, physical distancing, cleaning and workforce shift patterns.

Welsh guidance

These include detailed recommendations on employee health and wellbeing, cleaning, site operation, transportation and managing visitors.

It says the measures taken by organisations “will need to be appropriate, scalable and take into consideration the nature of the destination or venue”.

The framework includes specific recommendations for museums and art galleries.

It says these may need to introduce changes including “limiting entry, perhaps using timed, bookable slots, and ensuring that visitors move through galleries following clearly determined routes”.

Reopening safely “may mean that some exhibition areas will need to remain closed where safe social distancing can’t be implemented”, the document says.

Other recommendations for museums and galleries include: removing or limiting access to manual interactive displays; minimising or suspending public handling of collections; and enhanced cleaning regimes or quarantine periods for hand-held devices.

The government says it recognises that culture and heritage attractions will need to consider the economic viability of reopening.

It says “generally, the Welsh government will not help to meet the cost of reopening and it will be for each organisation to determine whether it is right for them to reopen at a given time”.

Wales is moving into the amber stage of its lockdown exit plan, which may involve the reopening of museums and galleries.

Amgueddfa Cymru – National Museum Wales plans to open the outdoor grounds of St Fagans National Museum of History for a limited number of days each week from the beginning of August. Its other six sites will open at a later date that has yet to be decided.

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