Major London art galleries are set to reopen next month as England prepares to lift social distancing restrictions after months of lockdown.
The National Gallery will be the first major gallery in the capital to reopen on 8 July, while the Royal Academy is set to open its doors on 9 July, and the Tate’s four venues will open on 27 July.
The Barbican also plans to reopen on 13 July, while the Whitechapel Gallery and the Photographers’ Gallery will open on 14 July, and the Wallace Collection a day later.
In their announcements today the National Gallery, Royal Academy, Tate and Barbican all said visitors would need to book timed tickets in advance.
The government last week announced art galleries, cafes, restaurants, pubs, cinemas and theatres will be allowed to reopen on 4 July, providing they adhere to strict social distancing measures. Entry times are likely to be staggered, and galleries are expected to implement capacity caps and strict social distancing rules.
Galleries will also be required to keep a record of all visitors for 21 days to assist with the NHS trace and trace programme if there are fresh outbreaks of infection.
Many other venues, such as the British Museum and Natural History Museum, have not yet had time to implement the new safety measures, and have not set a firm reopening date.
The National Gallery’s Titian exhibition, which shut just three days after its opening in March, has been extended to 17 January. The iconic gallery in London’s Trafalgar Square has had to install “higher efficiency” ventilation systems, and all visitors will be asked to wear face masks and keep two-metre distances.
The Royal Academy is set to unlock its doors to members from 9 July, but the non-paying public will have to wait a further week to see its Picasso On Paper exhibition and permanent collections.
Chief executive Axel Rüger said: “As visitor capacity will be greatly reduced due to social distancing, it will be an opportunity for a quieter, more contemplative experience in the galleries.”