Natural History, Science and V&A Museums announce they will reopen in August


The Natural History Museum, Victoria & Albert Museum and Science Museum are set to reopen in August.

South Kensington’s museum district – usually a tourist and school holiday hotspot in London – has been closed for months during lockdown.

The three institutions held a joint, virtual event to announce plans to open their doors again.

The Natural History Museum (pictured), Victoria & Albert Museum and Science Museum are set to reopen in August

South Kensington's museum district - usually a tourist and school holiday hotspot in London - has been closed for months during lockdown

South Kensington’s museum district – usually a tourist and school holiday hotspot in London – has been closed for months during lockdown

The Natural History Museum will reopen on August 5, the V&A on August 6, and the Science Museum on August 19.

Free tickets with allocated time slots will be needed to enter the museums.

The three museums said they are staggering opening dates and times to reduce footfall in Exhibition Road and ease visitor flow at nearby Underground stations.

The three museums said they are staggering opening dates and times to reduce footfall in Exhibition Road and ease visitor flow at nearby Underground stations (pictured: The Science Museum)

The three museums said they are staggering opening dates and times to reduce footfall in Exhibition Road and ease visitor flow at nearby Underground stations (pictured: The Science Museum)

The three institutions held a joint, virtual event to announce plans to open their doors again (pictured: The V&A)

The three institutions held a joint, virtual event to announce plans to open their doors again (pictured: The V&A)

The three institutions held a joint, virtual event to announce plans to open their doors again (pictured: The Natural History Museum)

The three institutions held a joint, virtual event to announce plans to open their doors again (pictured: The Natural History Museum)

The V&A will initially open from Thursday to Sunday each week.

Director Tristram Hunt said: ‘The V&A’s galleries flourish in dialogue with visitors.

What are the new rules?   

Victoria & Albert Museum 

Which exhibits are open?

The ground floor and Europe 1600-1815 galleries on level 1 are open, as well as the main shop and garden 

How can you get in? 

Opening hours from August 6: Thursday-Sunday, 11am-3pm (last entry 1.30pm)

Free tickets must be booked in advance online

Time slots are 15 minutes apart and last entry is at 1.30pm 

Safety advice  

Social distancing is encouraged and hand sanitiser and face coverings will be available throughout the galleries. 

Visitors are encouraged to wear a face mask. 

Protective screens have been installed in the shop and cafe and the museum will be regularly cleaned.    

Science Museum  

Which exhibits are open? 

All areas of the museum will be accessible apart from the Pattern Pod, The Garden and Secret Life of the Home 

How can you get in? 

Opening hours from August 19: Seven days a week, 10am-7pm (last entry 5.30pm)

Free tickets must be booked in advance online

Time slots are 15 minutes apart and last entry is at 5.30pm 

Safety advice  

Self-guided routes and social distancing guidelines will be in place across the museum with clear signage in place

Protective screens will be installed at all ticket desks and information points

Hand sanitiser stations will be located throughout the museum

Enhanced cleaning regimes throughout the museum, including toilets, high-touch areas and interactive galleries

Tickets will be scanned by contactless e-scanners

Contactless payment is encouraged where possible

Face coverings are recommended 

Natural History Museum

Which exhibits are open? 

All areas of the museum will be accessible apart from interactive exhibits 

How can you get in?  

Opening hours from August 5: Wednesday-Sunday, 11am-6pm (last entry 17.00) 

Free tickets must be booked in advance online or over the phone

Time slots are 15 minutes apart and last entry is at 5pm  

Safety advice 

Self-guided routes and social distancing guidelines will be in place across the museum with clear signage in place 

Protective screens are in place at key touchpoints such as cafes, shops and information desks. Face coverings are provided to staff

You are required to wear a face covering and cover coughs and sneeze with a tissue

Hand sanitiser will be available throughout the museum 

Contactless payment is encouraged where possible 

Facilities will be regularly cleaned by staff  

‘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.’

Mr Hunt said the reopening will see what the ‘appetite’ is from the public for visiting.

‘Finances are still very precarious so there is little point having very extended opening hours if no-one is coming through the door,’ he said.

‘At the moment, we haven’t got the demand we would necessarily hope for but that will grow and we will go with it.’

The V&A and the Natural History Museum said they are expecting around an 80% reduction in visitors initially. 

The V&A said the ‘seven miles of galleries’ in its building will reopen in phases, beginning with the ground floor collection galleries.

Mr Hunt said that ‘reopening is only the first phase to our recovery, which is set to last well into next year’.

Its Kimono: Kyoto To Catwalk exhibition, which closed just two weeks into its run, has now been extended and will reopen on August 27.

An exhibition on handbags will open later this year, while exhibitions on art, design and culture in Iran and an Alice In Wonderland exhibition are planned for next year.

V&A Dundee will reopen on August 27 with its exhibition on Mary Quant, and the V&A Collection at World of Wedgwood, near Stoke-on-Trent, will reopen on July 20.

Natural History Museum director Sir Michael Dixon said he is looking forward to reopening ‘our wonderful cathedral to nature’.

The ‘period of lockdown’ has inspired new exhibition ideas, he added.

The museum will open Wednesday to Sunday.

An exhibition inspired by Harry Potter author JK Rowling’s ‘fantastic beasts’ will open later.

Museum chiefs said visitors will be able to explore collections without the usual crowds.

Face coverings will be recommended but are not yet mandatory, although museums will look at the latest Government guidance.

The Science Museum will open seven days a week until September 6, after which it will be open Wednesday to Sunday.

At the Science Museum, Wonderlab: The Equinor Gallery will be open for younger visitors, with enhanced cleaning and safety measures.

Its basement – popular with very young children – will be shut because of potential issues with overcrowding.

Headphones, which have become very ‘fashionable’ in museums as a way of learning about exhibits, will not be in use.

Mr Hunt said ‘young people have been let down in the last few months’, criticising the response of ‘some education leaders’.

Museums want to help and support teachers so that ‘creative subjects stay in our schools and are not stripped out when schools return in September’, he said.

Museum bosses said they were ‘impressed’ with the Government settlement but long-term viability would be more of an issue.

They are expected to need more Government support to survive long term if social distancing continues.

It is expected that there will be fewer exhibitions, which will remain open for longer. 

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