READING MUSEUM is set to reopen early this month in time for the start of Heritage Open Days.
The Council has been working hard to reopen the Museum as soon as possible, with safety at the forefront of all its plans.
Working in line with current national safety guidance, the plan is for a phased reopening of the Museum and Museum Shop on Tuesday 8 September, initially with a reduced service and opening hours. The Museum has been certified with the ‘We’re Good To Go’ Industry Standard from Visit Britain, which means it adheres to Government and public health guidance.
The Museum will reopen Tuesday to Saturday 10am – 4pm. The shop hours will be reduced to match Museum opening times.
Importantly, visitors to the Museum will need to pre-book in advance at www.readingmuseum.org.uk/welcome-back
People can book in advance online from today (Tuesday 1 September). From 8 September, anyone who cannot access bookings online can call 0118 9373400 during opening hours.
A meet & greet will operate at the main entrance. Numbers will be limited to allow for social distancing and all visitors will follow a one-way signed route from entry to exit. The website will detail the ‘visitor journey’ allowing visitors to understand the new way of visiting in advance, supported by staff on arrival.
All visitors to be asked to wear face coverings during their visit (if they can) and use the hand sanitiser stations. A queuing system will be in place which could include queuing outside at busy times. For added safety, visitors to the museum shop will be limited in numbers. There will also be enhanced cleaning schedules throughout the building.
There will still be lots to see and enjoy. Special children’s trails will be available for families to follow. The Museum’s popular ‘Animal: World Art Journeys’ exhibition in the Art Gallery has also been extended.
The Council is asking all visitors to follow the safety guidance when visiting:
• If you are feeling unwell or have any coronavirus symptoms (a new continuous cough, high temperature or loss of taste or smell), please stay at home.
• Only visit if you have booked a session via www.readingmuseum.org.uk/welcome-back
• Please help everyone maintain a minimum 2m distance.
• Wear a face covering if you can.
• Please be patient if you need to queue and follow the marked queuing lanes. Inside please follow our one-way system where possible.
• Wash your hands before and after you visit. Hand sanitiser will be provided for you to use.
• Please use contactless payments in the shop if you can.
• Please note there is no casual access for use of toilets and we are offering limited access to toilets and baby change.
• The lifts will be restricted to single person use by those who are unable to use the stairs with exceptions extended on a case by case basis.
Cllr Karen Rowland, Reading’s Lead Member for Culture, Heritage and Recreation, said: “Following our recent successful reopening of Central Library, I am incredibly excited to see our much-loved Museum and shop reopen.
“As ever, the safety of the public and our staff remains our top priority. Our hard-working staff have spent a great deal of time ensuring every preventative measure against the virus has been carefully thought out and are confident we are now ‘Good to Go!’
“We must emphasise that whilst the service will reopen soon, it will not represent a return to normality for some time to come, and it will necessitate operating at a reduced level to accommodate safety measures. Visitors to the Museum will need to book in advance at www.readingmuseum.org.uk/welcome-back and follow safety guidance during their visit, such as wearing masks, following one-way systems and using the hand sanitiser we provide. We also urge people who are unwell to stay at home.
“You can book online from today – come see the Museum’s amazing displays and exhibitions. Where else in the UK can you see a full-size Victorian version of the Bayeux Tapestry in its magnificent entirety! The Museum’s popular ‘Animal: World Art Journeys’ exhibition in the Art Gallery has also been extended.
“The 8 September will be a great day for all museums in Reading, with the excellent news that our partner museum, The Museum of English Rural Life, will be opening on the same day. You can find out more on The MERL’s reopening at https://merl.reading.ac.uk/visit-us
“In the mean-time, I cannot recommend too often, the fabulous cultural offerings online. The Museum team has worked tirelessly behind the scenes to bring you innovative material relevant to current events, such as the fabulous virtual Windrush exhibition. The Museum also has very lively social media channels that are very worthy of following and they have also recently launched an online shop.”
For safety reasons, a few of the Town Hall and Museum’s services will not return from 8 September. This includes:
• Museum school and group visits.
• Museum events, activities, tours & talks.
• The Victorian Schoolroom at the Abbey Gateway and the Riverside Museum will remain closed.
• The Pantry Café.
• The Town Hall Commercial conferencing and events service and Concert Hall will remain closed in line with central government requirements.
The Berkshire Archaeology Service to continue to operate with staff providing the service remotely. The Coroners’ Court, based within the town hall, has been operating one day per week since 19 May. Similarly, the Ceremony Room at the Town Hall reopened from 11 July.
Since its closure in March 2020, the Museum activity has moved online with new content published maintaining a strong museum presence & activities for home learning and the community including VE Day and Windrush day. This work was recognised in LGA’s Covid19 good practise case studies (www.local.gov.UK/covid-19-good-council-practice ).
Connect with the Museum at:
• Online shop https://reading-museum-shop.myshopify.com
• Facebook @ReadingMuseum www.facebook.com/ReadingMuseum
• Twitter @ReadingMuseum https://twitter.com/readingmuseum
• Instagram @ReadingMuseum www.instagram.com/readingmuseum
• Donate to the museum at www.readingmuseum.org.uk/explore/get-involved/donate
Connect with the Town Hall at:
Connect with The MERL at
Find out more about Heritage Open Days in Reading at https://whatsonreading.com/heritage-open-days-2020