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Walker Art Gallery and World Museum will open first in July and the announcement comes after the UK government updated its advice on museums and galleries being able to open from July 4.
National Museums Liverpool (NML) has announced two of its popular attractions, World Museum and the Walker Art Gallery, will open “at the earliest opportunity” in July – and hopefully in the first half of the month.
It says it has implemented increased safety protocols to establish ‘trust and clear expectations’ as visitors are welcomed back, and stressed that in addition to creating materially safe conditions, it is important that venues make staff and visitors feel safe too.
“This is an important moment for all of us at National Museums Liverpool as we have missed the interaction with our visitors and our collections.
“We are spaces of wonder, curiosity and inspiration, things which so many of us have missed during lockdown. And, while the measures we have in place will mean visits are not entirely back to normal, a lot of thought and planning has been put into place to enable visitors to enjoy their experience as much as possible, while staying safe.
“I am desperate to get the sites open, but we have to do it in a way that’s safe for my colleagues and visitors.”
And she added: “It’s an opportunity to appreciate our venues with more tranquillity.”
New measures include:
– A new system to count the number of visitors in the buildings. When the venue has reached capacity, visitors will be asked to form a queue.
– Suggested routes allowing visitors to move throughout the venues one way.
– Social distancing measures have been integrated throughout with clear signage.
– Venues will operate on a five-day week: Wednesday – Sunday, between 10am and 5pm, to allow two days for staff training, well-being and facility cleaning procedures to take place.
– More thorough and frequent cleaning procedures. This will include (but not be limited to) lifts, toilets, door handles.
– Hand sanitisers installed at key points across both venues and visitors will be encouraged to make use of them whenever possible.
– Café and shops will be operating on a contactless payment method, and on a takeaway basis only.
– Interactives and ‘touchpoints’ have been removed
Laura said the reopening was always going to be a challenge with multiple sites, and that the Walker and World Museum had been chosen because they have the biggest local audiences, followed a conventional layout and design and, therefore, could be used to test new measures and be totally ‘comfortable’ with them.
She hopes the waterfront venues – The Museum of Liverpool and the International Slavery Museum – will open early in August, with Lady Lever and Sudley House open as soon as possible after that.
Laura said: “There is still the challenge of staffing capacity with a lot of staff with childcare issues, some staff shielding and some caring for those who are shielding, so I have reduced staffing at a time some areas, like housekeeping, need increased support.
“We are a service based on people coming through our doors, but I have to be totally confident that it is absolutely safe for my colleagues and visitors.”
She continued: “The Walker Art Gallery and World Museum have been on William Brown Street for more than a century and have been a constant through so much of our city’s history.
“While COVID-19 has impacted, and continues to impact our lives, we hope that by opening up these favourite spaces in Liverpool, we can give people some sense of normality back.
“From the exotic fish in the Aquarium of World Museum to the romance of the Pre-Raphaelites at the Walker Art Gallery, William Brown Street will once again be a place to transport and engage visitors with stories of art, history and the natural world.”
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