Covid-19 could lead to longer exhibitions in British museums

Christel Deskins

Social distancing will be in place and masks will be strong recommended when the museums reopen The Victoria and Albert, Science, and Natural History museums could offer longer exhibitions to boost revenues with dwindling numbers of returning visitors. Bosses of the three South Kensington institutions have announced doors will reopen to […]

Social distancing will be in place and masks will be strong recommended when the museums reopen
Social distancing will be in place and masks will be strong recommended when the museums reopen

The Victoria and Albert, Science, and Natural History museums could offer longer exhibitions to boost revenues with dwindling numbers of returning visitors.

Bosses of the three South Kensington institutions have announced doors will reopen to those craving culture in August, but capacity will be reduced by around 80%.

In light of visitors numbers and revenues being slashed due to coronavirus, V&A director Tristram Hunt has suggested future shows could last longer and give the public more time to attend.

It is hoped extended exhibitions could buy museums time to make returns on their displays, while also giving visitors the chance to peruse in peace without the usual crowds of tourists or school trips.

“The exhibitions are going to stay on show longer, in order to make the return on them,” said Mr Hunt.  “And I think there will be fewer of them.

“One of the great criticisms of exhibition visiting in the past few years is just how crowded they are, so if they are slightly longer, with slightly more dwell time and space with them, the enjoyment level of those exhibitions… is more enjoyable.”

He added that there will be no prescribed routes through the galleries to maintain social distancing, saying “everyone has their approach to culture and consumption so constrained by algorithms and predicative capitalism” while receiving art online, and they would be allowed to roam freely.

In the wake of Black Lives Matter protests, Science Museum Group director Ian Blatchford has said that institutions will be prepared for protests when they reopen, as legacies of colonialism and empire are expected to be challenged.

The Natural History Museum on August 5, the V&A on August 6, and the Science Museum reopens on August 19.

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