AFTER being closed for more than three months, Saddleworth Museum and Gallery is looking forward to re-opening soon to the public.The museum, on Uppermill High Street, shut on Friday, March 20 following Government guidance because of the Covid-19 pandemic but hopes to open in August.
The museum preserves, conserves and showcases Saddleworth’s past in four refurbished galleries, offers an exceptional archive and has a community gallery for hire for art exhibitions or events.
Charlie Middlewood, on behalf of the Museum and Friends Committees, explained: “Like many other organisations, even those who closed much later, this has been a difficult time.
“We have continued to incur costs but have used social media more to promote a couple of learning workshops, an online art exhibition, and the curator’s own collection of Old Saddleworth photographs.
“On Wednesday, June 24, guidance aimed at a re-opening of July 4 was issued. We have been working hard on making all the changes required but realised that re-opening on July 4 would be nigh on impossible.
“We now believe we have completed the detailed consultation process required, despite all the restrictions around the rules for meetings.
“We already had Covid-19 compliant activities looking after incoming post, Friends membership subscriptions and essential building maintenance.
“We knew the correct working practise restrictions meant the work needed and the equipment to install would take a long time.
“The new normal for the museum will initially mean fewer people (both visitors and volunteers) on site, with staff working from home if possible and fewer afternoons open.
“There will also be the expected hand sanitisation stations, one-way systems, arrows, barriers, and warning posters.
“There will be an appointments system for visitors to help in access control and the essential data collection requirement for NHS Test and Trace.
“The museum will also need to move to an enhanced website which can deal with more online booking, shopping and events. Once we know the dates of our re-opening we will launch an advance on-line booking system on www.saddleworthmuseum.co.uk as well as by email and phone.
“Our last expected major review of our progress will around July 20. Once we are sure everything is as safe and secure as we can make it, we may be able to announce when we present our new normal to the public. We hope to do this one weekend in August.”
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