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When will Norfolk’s museums and galleries reopen?

PUBLISHED: 18:00 01 July 2020

Social distancing measures will be in place when the Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts reopens on July 7. Picture: Andy Crouch

Social distancing measures will be in place when the Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts reopens on July 7. Picture: Andy Crouch

© Andy Crouch 2015

A renowned art gallery and museum says visitors can expect a different experience post-lockdown, with one-way systems in place and time limits on visits.

The Sainsburys Centre for Visual Arts will reopene to the public on July 7. Picture: Andy CrouchThe Sainsburys Centre for Visual Arts will reopene to the public on July 7. Picture: Andy Crouch

The Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts (SCVA), on the University of East Anglia campus along with the Muckleburgh Military Collection in Weybourne, will be some of the first attractions to open to the public in Norfolk, welcoming visitors from July 6 and 7.

But many of the county’s museums, which are run by the county council, have not confirmed when they will reopen.

The SCVA has stressed a visit to its space from July 7 will be different from before, with many new measures in place to help keep visitors and staff safe.

When the gallery reopens it will have two special exhibitions on offer, Art Deco by the sea and Art Nouveau: The Nature of Dreams, as well as The Sainsbury Collection.

Norwich Castle museum. Photo: Steven Asker, citizenside.comNorwich Castle museum. Photo: Steven Asker, citizenside.com

Both exhibitions will be operating a strict timed, pre-booked ticket policy with visitors having one hour to visit each show.

One-way routes will be in place around exhibitions and wall and floors signs to guide people. Cloakrooms will be closed but toilets will be open, as will The Modern Life Cafe, which will be offering takeaways.

The SCVA has also said it will be stepping up its cleaning routine, and customer facing staff will be required to wear masks.

Guided tours, group bookings, school workshops and bookings are all suspended for the foreseeable future.

The Thetford Dad's Army Museum's Captain Mainwaring statue  Picture: Denise BradleyThe Thetford Dad's Army Museum's Captain Mainwaring statue Picture: Denise Bradley

Ghislaine Wood, acting director of SCVA, said: “While our Sculpture Park has remained open throughout lockdown, we are pleased to announce the reopening of the Sainsbury Centre from Tuesday, July 7.

“The remarkable open-plan architecture of the Sainsbury Centre has helped us move towards reopening safely and implementing social distancing.

“We hope our visitors will now come enjoy the galleries and exciting exhibitions programme planned for the summer.”

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The Muckleburgh Military Collection, on the north Norfolk coast, will be welcoming visitors from July 6 and has also been forced to alter how it operates in order to reopen.

To ensure the safety of the public, the museum has put in place measures to ensure social distancing is followed and tank and lorry rides have been cancelled.

However, anyone hoping to visit some Norfolk’s larger museums, including Great Yarmouth’s Time and Tide Museum, Norwich Castle or Stranger’s Hall, will have to wait, as Norfolk County Council, which runs the venues, has not yet confirmed when they will be reopening.

A spokesperson for Norfolk County Council, said: “We’re working on plans to allow us to safely reopen our much loved museums as soon as we can as we know how keen people are to come to visit us once again.

“We hope to be able to publish our reopening dates really soon.”

In Thetford, a spokesperson for the Dad’s Army Museum said the museum’s management committee was meeting to see whether the museum would be able to reopen and follow government guidance on social distancing. They said the small size of the museum would be a significant factor.

“At this stage we’re looking at August [for reopening] at the earliest, subject to guidelines,” they said.

Many other independent museums across the county are also still posting notices on social media and websites stating they are closed for the foreseeable future.

In Cromer, a spokesperson for the RNLI, which runs the Henry Blogg Museum, said the charity had no opening date for the museum in mind yet.

They said: “The RNLI is looking at ways in which we can reopen the museum with a practice that’s going to be safe for our volunteers and members of the public.”

READ MORE: Closed railway lines in Norfolk could be restored

The government announced cinemas, museums and galleries in England would be permitted to reopen to the public from July 4 on June 23.

The vast majority of venues have been closed since the middle of March when the country was put on lockdown in a bid to halt the spread of coronavirus.

The announcement, along with the news that pubs, restaurants and cafes would also be able to reopen marked the greatest easing of lockdown since measures were introduced.


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