Leading Museums, Museum Leaders

ACT museums reset & reopen after closures

The National Museum of Australia in Canberra will reopen on Friday. Supplied: Tourism Media.

Kate Midena, ACT records 10 new cases of COVID-19 as national institutions prepare to reopen their doors, ABC News, 27 October 2021

The ACT has recorded 10 new locally acquired COVID-19 cases.

There are currently 11 people in hospital with the virus in Canberra, with six people in intensive care and five requiring ventilation.

There were 1,022 negative test results received in the past 24 hours.

The ACT also reached a COVID-19 vaccination milestone overnight, with 90 per cent of the eligible population aged 12 and over now having received two doses.

Local health authorities have previously said the territory was on track to be one of the most vaccinated jurisdictions in the world by Christmas.

National institutions prepare to reopen

As the ACT edges towards another easing of restrictions on Friday, Canberra’s national institutions are doing all they can to be ready to open in time.

Mathew Trinca, director of the National Museum of Australia, said the closure on August 12 was “a melancholy thing for museums”.

“Museums are mean to be open, to be welcoming the public,” he said.

“It’s been sad, but necessary.”

Mr Trinca said pre-sale tickets for the museum’s Ancient Greeks exhibition, opening in December, will go on sale on Friday October 29.(ABC News: Nick Haggarty).

Come Friday, Mr Trinca said the safety of both the public and staff at the museum would be “paramount”.

“We will be controlling the numbers on site. Obviously, we’ll be asking people [aged 12 and over] to wear masks, and to socially distance while they’re here to take sensible precautions,” he said.

“I think in so many ways, museums, galleries, places like ours, are really important at this moment to reaffirm all those things we love about our lives, and [to] be able to come and see great works, great exhibitions and to enjoy being there with each other.”

David Barker said many outdoor dinosaurs at the museum were given a paint touch-up during lockdown.(ABC News: Nick Haggarty).

Over at the National Dinosaur Museum, general manager David Barker said his staff were “ecstatic” to reopen on Friday.

“It’s been a bit of a rocky time over the last two years, with the bushfires and then COVID,” he said.

“We’re obviously ecstatic at the moment, particularly the staff who haven’t been here since August [and] most of our casuals.”

The museum has used lockdown to renovate, making changes to the Amethyst Caves, repainting the dinosaurs and stocking up on toys.

“We had a 40-foot container full of new toys come in over shutdown … so we’ve enlarged the shop a little bit to accommodate the new toys,” Mr Barker said.

Capacity restrictions will be in force, and while walk-ins are welcome, Mr Barker recommends booking online so your place is secure.

‘There’s an overall feeling of expectation’

Rebecca Edwards from the National Gallery of Australia uncovers paintings in preparation for the gallery reopening on Friday.(ABC News: Nick Haggarty).

While some exhibitions at the National Gallery of Australia will remain closed as curators put the finishing touches on them, Deborah Hart, head curator of Australian art, said the gallery would still have lots to offer come October 29.

“We’ve got a fantastic display … of Sarah Lucas’s work, a contemporary British artist that was opening just as we went into lockdown, so that’s very exciting,” she said.

“We’ve also got part two of Know My Name, which opened just a little bit before lockdown.

Ms Hart said the NGA would be adhering to the same COVID-safe protocols they had in place before lockdown, including mandatory mask-wearing and use of the Check In CBR app. Bookings are recommended, but not essential.

The National Gallery of Australia will reopen on Friday, with the Jeffrey Smart exhibition “waiting in the wings” and opening to the public in December.(Wikipedia Creative Commons: Thennicke).

“I think there’s an overall feeling of expectation and looking forward to really getting into things again and getting the gallery open and having a fantastic time,” Ms Hart said.

“I hope that in the gallery we can play our part in bringing some joy and some inspiration.”

The National Portrait Gallery will also reopen on October 29, with bookings for both free and paid exhibitions essential.

Questacon reopening in November

But national science museum Questacon has decided to delay opening its doors until November, having redirected attention online during lockdown.

Questacon has been empty due to coronavirus restrictions since August, and will be for a little while longer.(ABC News).

“There was a big digital pivot … so we had a lot of focus on delivering engaging STEM activities through our online resources,” senior manager Angie Good said.

“But we were also able to help government efforts towards supporting COVID surge activities and redeploy a lot of our staff, so a lot of them have been busy towards busy holding out those efforts throughout the last few months.”

Ms Good said she was hopeful people, once doors reopened, would enjoy seeing exhibits that have been “stop and start” over the past 12 months, including a gigantic moon installation and a space exhibition.

“We’ve looked at every single exhibit that’s currently out on the floor and made sure they can be used in a COVID-safe way,” she said.

Angie Good said Questacon’s priority was making sure they could open in a COVID-safe way.(ABC News: Nick Haggarty).

Ms Good said a lot of the practises that were in place before lockdown would remain, with tickets pre-booked through Ticketek to manage capacity, use of the Check In CBR app, and hand sanitising stations.

Questacon’s reopening date will be announced on their website.

Council of Australasian Museum Directors c/o Lynley Crosswell, Museums Victoria, GPO Box 666, Melbourne VIC 3001, © CAMD 2023
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