Museums and art galleries have been closed since the start of lockdown on at the end of March. They were allowed to open from the 4th July. Some s did open straight away (the National Gallery reopened on the 8th July) but the larger London galleries started to reopen from the 25th July on wards with others following on the 1st August, it has been a long time coming. While others may have been desperate for shops and pubs to open, I have been longing for a touch of culture and art. Museum and art galleries are my safe place, the quite rooms filled with beauty and history. You can wander the galleries for as long as you like, take a seat and take it in and no one bothers you. Of course being in London, trying to visit any of these wonderful places at the weekend is chaos, too many people, the galleries filled with tour groups. Its the same world round. We used to visit on an evening as more and more galleries and museums opened up for ‘Lates’. Late night openings one night a week where you could explore the collections before or after a glass of wine at the bars they had open, some putting on music or special installations.
With the announcement of the National Gallery and other opening at the start of July it was like a wave of normality. The British Museum, of which I am a member is not yet open but they are hoping to open in September I think. They will be extending my membership which has just expired to include those months lost which is great. I cannot wait to get back in there.
Mr Life London Food took some time off work so this Tuesday as part of a cycling jaunt through London we booked ourselves a slot to visit the Tate Britain. Its a gallery we often over look in favour of the Tate Modern or National Portrait Gallery for some reason, but having been to one of their Lates which they used to run the first Friday of every month , we were surprised how much we enjoyed the visit. Nothing to do with the DJ, art installations and bar! But as it was somewhere we knew less about we thought it would be the perfect time to reacquaint ourselves.
You book a time slot online to visit and they are running one way routes through different galleries. We chose the British Art 1930’s to Now option taking in post war modernism, Henry Moore sculpture and much more.
The one way system is clearly marked on the flooring and on signage. There was hand sanitiser dotted about and with the limited visitor numbers there was plenty of space in the halls and in the galleries. It all felt very calm. We of course wore masks, as did most of the visitors but a few were not. Most of the staff also had masks or face coverings on.
The whole visit was enjoyable and the limited visitors meant you had plenty of space to take in the art, read the notes and not feel rushed.
From looking online it looks like all art galleries and museums are offering timed entrances and limited numbers per day. It obviously affects them as a business as many are running at a loss and smaller places will struggle to survive but as a visitor I cannot help but enjoy the quieter galleries. It gives you a much more pleasant experience. It will be interesting to see what they are like at the weekends compared to the week. We want to try and get tickets for the Andy Warhol exhibition which has been extended until the end of the summer as well as the Kimono exhibition at the V & A. Seen as I am on furlough I may try and sneak to some of these places during the week when it will be quieter.
Its going to be a slow walk back to where we were with art and culture pre lockdown, no longer can we just randomly decided to drop in somewhere when we are near, but then again we are being more organised with our ventures into central London as restaurants and bars also need to be pre booked.
Art and History mean so much to many people and being able to visit museums and galleries again does offer a hope that normality will return to us at some point, albeit perhaps a slightly different normal. For now we just need to be a bit more organised in our viewing of art.