Tuesday, the Duke and Duchess of Gloucester visited the British Museum to thank staff who contributed to the museum’s safe reopening and to hear how the museum was cared for during lockdown.
The museum reopened in late August to some pandemic-related changes. Visitors will need to book a free, timed ticket in advance as the museum is reducing visitors to encourage social distancing. There is also now an easy-to-follow one-way route signposted around the Ground floor galleries.
The museum was closed for 163 days, the longest peacetime closure in the museum’s 261-year history. The collection is said to have eight million objects, and it was stored in a complex building to bring its historic infrastructure back into service during the closure. Items include fragile and varied objects such as the Lewis Chess pieces or the Nimrud Ivories made of materials particularly vulnerable to changes in temperature and humidity.
Hartwig Fischer, Director of the British Museum, said at the time of the reopening, “Visitors are our lifeblood, and we have missed them greatly. It will be wonderful to welcome them back and I do hope that local, London-wide, and UK audiences will take this opportunity to discover, or rediscover, the Museum, exploring some of the most popular galleries in what will be a much quieter environment. And we are looking forward to welcoming back our international visitors as well in due course.
The British Museum’s extraordinary collection is a unique place to learn about the shared and complex history of humankind, with its many achievements and challenges, conflicts, and innovations. It demonstrates humanity’s ability to endure and create even in precarious times. It will inspire us as we embark on this new chapter in the story of the Museum, and the world.”
The Duke of Gloucester has been Patron of the museum since 2003.