Wednesday, 12 Aug 2020

Coronavirus: London’s Natural History Museum, Science Museum and Victoria & Albert Museum to reopen

Three major London museums are set to open their doors again after the coronavirus lockdown forced them to close.

The Victoria & Albert Museum (V&A), Natural History Museum and Science Museum, all on London‘s Exhibition Road, are preparing to reopen next month to take advantage of the school summer holidays.

The South Kensington venues announced their plans during a joint virtual event on Tuesday morning, with museums having been given the green light to emerge from their coronavirus-enforced hibernation from earlier this month.

The Natural History Museum will be the first to reopen on 5 August, followed by the V&A the next day, and finally the Science Museum on 19 August.

Timed tickets will be needed to access the venues to manage crowds, but entry will continue to be free, with the V&A and Natural History Museum expecting to operate at just 20% of their usual capacity to start with.

The staggered opening dates are a further effort to reduce the footfall at local Tube stations, so that the flow of people can be easily managed.

The museums will also operate with different hours initially:

  • Natural History Museum from Wednesday to Sunday each week
  • V&A from Thursday to Sunday each week
  • Science Museum seven days a week until 6 September, then Wednesday to Sunday each week, but its popular basement area of child-friendly interactive exhibitions will remain closed

Face coverings will be recommended, after the government mandated their use in shops in England, and visitors from different groups will also need to adhere to social distancing.

V&A director Tristram Hunt said: “The V&A’s galleries flourish in dialogue with visitors, and after so many months, I am delighted we will be reopening our doors to the world.

“Our seven miles of galleries in South Kensington will open in phases, and we have a range of exciting exhibition and gallery openings to come in the next few months.

“The V&A has ample space for social distancing, and all safety measures are in place for our visitors to enjoy 5,000 years of ingenuity in art, design and performance.

“Reopening is only the first phase to our recovery, which is set to last well into next year, and we remain hugely grateful to all our visitors, members and supporters – now more than ever.”

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Mr Hunt’s Natural History Museum counterpart Sir Michael Dixon said he was looking forward to reopening “our wonderful cathedral to nature”.

He said the lockdown had inspired new exhibition ideas, including one for later in the year inspired by Harry Potter author JK Rowling‘s “fantastic beasts”.

It is expected that there will be fewer exhibitions overall at each of the museums, but those that are there will remain in place for longer than they normally would.

The museums will join other UK attractions that have already reopened, including zoos, camp sites and theme parks.

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