How will coronavirus change visits to museums and art centres?

Phase 1 will allow the reopening of museums and art centres.
Phase 1 will allow the reopening of museums and art centres. / Ñito Salas
  • Individual or family visits with no audio guides, pamphlets or written material and two-metre markers on the floor to keep a safe distance

The image of a museum gallery crowded with visitors is already history. At least, for a while. New regulations to prevent the spread of the coronavirus will affect cultural centres as then reopen after lockdown.

The order published by the Ministry of Health in the BOE (official state gazette), details the rules that these institutions must follow during the plan designed by the government to ease lockdown restrictions. This allows the reopening of museums (with restrictions) from phase 1, which the province of Malaga has not yet entered.

Among the new indications are the limitation of visits to individuals or family groups, the elimination of audio guides and printed materials and the placement of markers on the floor so that visitors maintain a two-metre safety distance.

There are also restrictions on museums during this first stage, such as a reduction in capacity to 30 per cent, the impossibility of organising any educational or cultural activities and the need to constantly monitor attendance to avoid crowding in the exhibition halls.

Sales online

The order "recommends" that ticket sales are made online, and payment by card encouraged. The Ministry of Health also establishes that museums may alter the usual route through their galleries, reorganise entrances and halls or even exclude exhibition areas that do not allow a minimum security distance of two metres between visitors.

The guidelines state that tactile information screens and elements designed for use by visitors should be switched off and "audio guides, leaflets in the hall or other similar material should not be made available to visitors".

When managing the capacity of the rooms, the order allows the possibility for museums to limit the maximum number of tickets available and warns that the public, "including those waiting to enter the museum", must keep a security distance of two metres. "For this purpose, taped markers must be placed on the floor to mark this distance in access and waiting areas," it states.

The ministerial order also requires the installation of screens in places "involving direct contact between workers and the visiting public" such as ticket offices and information counters, where sanitising or similar gel dispensers should also be made available.

In addition, museums should inform users through their websites and social network profiles of the health and hygiene measures "that must be complied with during visits".