Glasgow museums and galleries to stay closed during school holidays

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All of Glasgow's flagship museums and galleries are to remain closed to the public until after the school holidays, city leaders have revealed.

Friday, 3rd July 2020, 7:30 am Kelvingrove usually attracts more than a million visitors each year. Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum, the Riverside Museum and the Gallery of Modern Art will not be reopening later this month when the city's hospitality and tourism sectors are due to back up and running.

The financial impact of the shutdown of cultural events and attractions, and the time needed to install new hygiene measures and train extra staff needed when venues reopen have all been cited as key factors. The difficulties in enforcing social distancing restrictions have also been blamed for a decision to postpone the reopening of some venues indefinitely, including the People's Palace, Scotland Street Museum, the St Mungo Museum of Religious Life and Art and the Provand's Lordship.

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Just 61 of Glasgow Life's 170 venues will be reopening in its first post-lockdown phase, between July and October. Glasgow Life, which runs the city's museums and galleries on behalf of the council, said it was already looking at losses of up to GBP40 million due to the impact of the pandemic.

The trust, which has a budget of around GBP110 million, has had 1000 of its 2600-strong workforce on furlough. The Scottish Government has given museums and galleries the green light to reopen on 15, along with other visitors attractions, hotels, bars and restaurants, as part of efforts to reboot the tourism sector. However Kelvingrove, the city's busiest museum, which normally attracts more than a million visitors each year, will not be opening until 17 August.

The Riverside Museum, which showcases the city's transport collection, will not be back up and running until the end of August, while the Gallery of Modern Art will not reopen until October. However the Tramway could be one of the country's first performing arts centres to host live events again after a September reopening was pencilled in. Cllr David McDonald, chair of Glasgow Life, said: "There is a real difference between having permission to reopen venues and actually having all the requirements in place to ensure that when you do reopen you are reopening safely.

"We're working across 170 venues so it is taking a bit of planning to get all the pieces in place. The phased approach we are taking is a recognition that we're trying to get back to as close to normal as we were three months ago and also reflect the desire from the public to get back into venues that they know and love. "Our financial and staffing constraints are unlike anything we've ever faced.

It's not a case of just reopening our doors and returning to the way things were. "Like every organisation, Glasgow Life has been hit hard by Covid-19.

The complete shutdown of Glasgow's museums, libraries and sports venues for more than three months, together with the cancellation of most of the city's events and festivals this year means the millions of pounds of income which supports our services has been wiped out." The Association of Scottish Visitor Attractions warned last month that only one in three sites across the country were likely to reopen along with the rest of the tourism sector on 15 July. Nearly half of the nation's museums, galleries, castles and palaces may have to be "mothballed" completely until 2021, according to the findings of a survey of operators.

Concerns over the cost of new health and hygiene measures, reduced capacities and an expected huge reduction in the number of overseas visitors are thought to have made reopening of many sites financially unviable. Mr McDonald added: "Planning around government guidance, which is changing regularly, the welfare of our staff, and the viability of adapting our venues to meet social distancing takes time and we have a responsibility to get it right from the outset. "Social distancing also means that a large proportion of our venues are unable to reopen safely and we'll need more staff than before to be working at the venues we do reopen to ensure current restrictions are followed.

"We've been desperate to get our venues open as quickly as we can, but we've got to make sure that that happens as safely as we possibly can. "We want to reopen Kelvingrove, the Riverside and our other museums in a safe way, but the first job we've got to do is ensure our staff our safe and understood all the processes and procedures that are going into place. "We're also going to have to spend time working with the public and what they expect from venues of the size and scale of Kelvingrove when it reopens.

They will have to get used to the fact that they won't be able to just turn up - they will have to book in advance. "We want to avoid any possibility of people being turned away and being left disappointed." A message from the Editor:

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