Having been closed for 111 days because of the lockdown, the National Gallery is finally coming "out of exile" and reopening its doors to visitors on July 8. It will be the first big museum to reopen in England, after the government announced the lockdown would be eased on July 4.
The first to reopen
"All of us at the National Gallery felt a responsibility of reopening as soon as we could. The tradition here is one of resilience, staying open through the war years and so on, so we felt the weight of that responsibility and we wanted to be there for the visiting public as soon as we possibly could", commented director Gabriele Finaldi.
But the gallery will have to adjust to the new situation in order to remain safe for the public. People visiting will have to prebook time slots, to wear face masks and to respect the 2 metre social distancing, but there will also be enhanced cleaning and hand sanitisers.
For the gallery, it is a big symbol to be the first reopening.
"We want to be a part of the nation's recovery story and by opening the doors and letting the public back in to see our inspiring pictures, we want to make an important contribution to the process. We are the same gallery you know and love, just with added social distancing and one-way art routes", said Gabriele Finaldi.
Other reopenings include the Tate Modern, Tate Britain, Tate St Ives and Tate Liverpool on 27 July, the Royal Academy of Arts on July 16, the Barbican art gallery on 13 July, and the Whitechapel gallery on 14 July.
Tate's director Maria Balshaw commented: "Art and culture play vital roles in our lives, and many of us have been craving that irreplaceable feeling of being face-to-face with a great work of art. Our top priority remains that everyone stays safe and well, so we will continue to monitor the situation in the weeks ahead, work closely with government and colleagues, and make all the changes necessary for a safe reopening."