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Re-opening of NI Local Museums

On 2nd July, the NI Executive announced relaxations to the Coronavirus restrictions which included agreement that museums and galleries could re-open from the 3rd July 2020.

07 July 2020

Since Lockdown NI local Museum Managers have been communicating on a regular basis, most recently regarding the challenges to re-opening.

Some key observations during Lockdown and as we move into this new relaxed phase:

  • Museums are resilient organisations and will flex and adapt
  • No accredited museum opened on 3rd July, or is likely to open before the July holiday period
  • Local museum across NI are at different stages of preparedness for re-opening
  • There will be a staggered re-opening of accredited local museums over the next few months
  • Many staff are still on furlough
  • There is a cost to re-opening to ensure that social distancing guidelines are followed; there is also a cost to working at home (e.g. IT equipment)
  • Digital infrastructure, good and not so good, continues to impact on the working from home experience
  • What will re-opening look like?  It will include reduced opening hours, ticketed times, managed tours and restricted access to areas within the museums
  • Some museums may not be able to open, or may find it financial unsustainable to re-open, and may remain closed to the public for several more months 
  • The visitor experience will be fundamentally different upon re-opening
  • Online resources have proved popular with the public during Lockdown and will continue to be developed 
  • Social media has also enabled museums to remain engaged with audiences
  • Antedotal evidence suggests that some museums have attracted new audiences during Lockdown and re-opening offers new potential audiences