As UK museums prepare to reopen, half of British public say they're not ready to visit yet

A survey reveals that 49 per cent of respondents aren’t comfortable with visiting museums despite safety measures in place

A number of major museums in the UK, including London’s National Gallery and the Tate’s galleries, are set to reopen this month. Other art spaces such as the Royal Academy in London, Barbican Art Gallery and Whitechapel Gallery are following suit.

On Saturday, July 4, pubs, restaurants and hairdressers reopened in England after three months of lockdown in what the country called “Super Saturday”.

The Tate group of galleries, comprising Tate Modern, Tate Britain, Tate Liverpool and Tate St Ives, will reopen on Monday, July 27. The Victoria & Albert Museum plans to open its doors in August.

But a survey released by Ipsos Mori and reported by The Art Newspaper states that half of the British public are not ready to visit exhibitions just yet.

Conducted at the end of June, the survey reveals that 49 per cent of respondents said they were “not very comfortable” or “not at all comfortable” with visiting an indoor museum or exhibition even with restrictions in place. Only 34 per cent said they were “very comfortable” or “fairly comfortable”.

The figures are actually a slight improvement on a prior survey in May, when only 17 per cent of respondents said they would feel comfortable attending cultural events.

In comparison, the Ipsos Mori survey from June reveals bars and restaurant fared worse in public sentiment, with 60 per cent saying they would not be comfortable going to these venues. The numbers are similar for use of public transport (59 per cent), going to indoor cinemas and theatres (59 per cent) and taking holidays abroad (57 per cent).

The reopening of museums in the UK will be led by the National Gallery, which is set to welcome visitors on Wednesday, July 8, with reduced opening hours and limited capacity. The museum has been shut since March 18. Attendance is expected to drop by about three quarters this summer, to roughly 3,000 people a day.

Updated: July 5, 2020 03:59 PM


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