Galleries to re-open

There is surely something odd about the criteria for re-opening. Where we are in East London, everything has now pretty well re-opened – chicken shops, cafes, food shops, hardware stores, bicycle repair shops – and the street outside is busy as normal. I now read that commercial galleries and auction houses can re-open on June 1st, subject to the rules of social distancing. But museums, cathedrals, concert halls and churches – great cultural and public therapeutic spaces – which ostensibly can be visited relatively safely (it’s all relative), with high ceilings and established conventions of social distancing, remain shuttered and closed. I suppose it’s a reasonable way of re-booting the economy, but it doesn’t feel like the best way of controlling the spread of the disease, nor rational in terms of the risks involved.


5 thoughts on “Galleries to re-open

  1. Lloyd Adalist says:

    Seems similar to what is happening on the west side of the Atlantic:
    “We’re not reopening based on science. We’re reopening based on politics, ideology and public pressure. And I think it’s going to end badly.”
    Dr. Thomas R. Frieden, a former director of the C.D.C. in the Obama administration. Quoted in the NYTimes Science Section this morning.

  2. Maurice Davies says:

    I think densely populated and bustling East London may be something of an exception to the rest of the country. Here in Hertfordshire (and presumably in the West End) most places remain firmly shut.

    As for museums, it may be that they are being considered by government alongside performing arts. I think your quite wrong on concert halls. Theatres, cinemas, music venues etc are likely to be some of the last places to reopen because of audience members’ proximity. But considered separately museums perhaps could open more safely. That would of course have to be with very limited visitor numbers. That’s not a problem for many museums, but could be financially impossible for places that charge and rely on large numbers of visitors (where there are very few ‘established conventions of social distancing’ – popular London art exhibitions can be as unpleasantly packed as the Tube in the rush hour.)

    • Dear Maurice, I carefully didn’t include cinemas and theatres and maybe shouldn’t have included concert halls. But it still seems odd to see pictures of crowded tube trains – surely an obvious risk – whilst the galleries of the V&A are closed. Charles

      • Maurice Davies says:

        Yes, that’s true. It’s a a waste that those large spaces are empty and appalling that people are having to travel on crowded tube trains, which must surely contribute to spreading infection. But places like indoor sports centres and swimming pools are closed too, and there seem to be significant risks using public toilets, so I fear it may be premature for museums to open. But I agree there are undoubtedly inconsistencies and perhaps almost whimsical decisions. Some countries opened hairdressers very early on, but in the UK you will have to be badly coiffed for some months more. I think my main point is that it’s not necessarily an undervaluing of culture, probably more of a cock-up than a conspiracy.

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