The art of social distancing in galleries, how does it work?


The art of social distancing in galleries, how does it work?

Thu, 30 May 2024

Galleries around the country reopened from lockdown in July, delighting arts fans and those looking to get a bit of much needed culture after several months inside. Like every public space and institution there are new rules in place for galleries to ensure that social distancing can be maintained to prevent the transmission of COVID-19 and to keep people safe. So, how does the new system work?

Galleries might be the safest places

As one visitor who was returning to the National Gallery in London when it reopened this summer noted, galleries are actually safe spots where COVID is concerned. Most galleries are large – or at least fairly spacious – and there is no need for visitors to touch anything while they are inside. That’s why visitors have been returning in large numbers to the country’s arts spaces – that and the need to get back to the things that make us all feel good after being cut off from them for so long in lockdown.

The art of social distancing

The National Gallery was the first major institution to open its doors with a range of very specific social distancing measures in place to protect its customers. Other galleries have followed in its footsteps and so if you’re planning to visit the likes of the Royal Academy Of Arts, Tate Britain, Tate Modern or the Whitechapel Gallery this is what you might expect:

Increased intensity of cleaning. Everywhere that is visited by the public has much more of a focus on cleaning than was previously the case. As there are still so many unknowns when it comes to COVID most are not taking any chances with respect to potential transmission via surfaces. More intense and frequent cleaning is a hallmark of galleries that are reopening today.

A one-way route. To help ensure that people stay separate you are likely to be asked to follow a one-way route around the exhibition and not to double back at any point. However, this wasn’t uncommon in Galleries before lockdown so for most this doesn’t change the experience.

Pre-booking is essential. Even if the exhibition that you’re planning to see is free you’ll still need to ensure that you have booked a ticket in advance. Most galleries offer ticket booking online but the days of showing up at a gallery spontaneously are probably over for now. Because of the lack of foreign tourists Galleries haven’t been too over crowded, so seeing your favourite art installation won’t be too much of a challenge.

Staying socially distant. Within the gallery space everyone is expected to maintain the rules on social distancing and stay separate from those who are not within their own group.

Safety measures for visitors. Galleries are listed on the government website as one of the locations where members of the public do need to wear face coverings. Some galleries may provide these if you have forgotten yours, others may deny entry without one. You may also find that some locations ask that you have your temperature taken and use hand sanitiser on entry.

For galleries and visitors all over the country it’s a positive step that these institutions have reopened and can be visited safely and with peace of mind.

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