05:00PM, Friday 17 July 2020
Maidenhead Heritage Centre and The Stanley Spencer Gallery are getting ready to welcome visitors back following the easing of lockdown restrictions.
Museums and galleries have been allowed to open from July 4 but the heritage centre, and the Cookham gallery, have taken the time to ensure they are safe for staff, volunteers and the public.
The heritage centre plans to open its museum and shop on Wednesday, July 29, from which time its opening hours will be 10am-4pm Tuesday to Saturday.
Social distancing screens will ensure adequate space between visitors and a rigorous ‘anti-COVID’ cleaning regime will help prevent the spread of the virus.
“Our top priority is the safety of our visitors, volunteers and staff,” said chairman Richard Poad.
The museum will open with the exhibition ‘Summer on the River’ which will run alongside the permanent exhibition of highlights of the history of Maidenhead.
A top attraction of the centre, the Spitfire Simulator Experience, will also be back in action and allow visitors to take to the skies over London, the Isle of Wight or even San Francisco.
Heritage Centre manager, Flora Woodruff, said: “If Brits can’t visit their favourite destination, our Spitfire Simulator Experience will probably take them there without even leaving Maidenhead.”
During lockdown the Heritage Centre stepped up its online activity, including a series of free online lectures which Richard says are ‘attracting an audience from as far away as Australia and California’.
At The Stanley Spencer Gallery in High Street, Cookham, Bob Kottler, chairman of the gallery’s management committee has been coordinating its re-opening strategy.
The plan is to open the gallery on Saturday, August 15, with a new exhibition called LOVE, ART, LOSS: The Wives of Stanley Spencer, which has loans from the Tate and Southampton City Art Gallery.
He said ‘there was no panic at all to hurry the re-opening’ because it was more important the gallery’s custodians were familiar with the new coronavirus safety procedures and ‘feel comfortable’.
They also needed to be inducted about the new exhibition.
“Most people are keen to get back, one or two have reservations,” he said. “People have very different opinions about what’s safe and what isn’t.”
To make the gallery as coronavirus-proof as possible only 10 members of the public will be allowed in at one time, there will be a one-way system in operation and hand sanitiser is dotted throughout the museum.
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