Art in Lockdown
The pandemic has had a huge impact on the museums and the art industry around the world. We talked with the spokesperson of the National Gallery and learned about how they live in new circumstances.
-What impact has the pandemic had on the gallery??
It is very difficult to predict how visitors will behave after lockdown and we can be sure that social distancing will remain in force for some time. We think tourism will build up quite slowly. But we are confident that people will want to see the nation's paintings in person – and enthusiasm for tickets seems to bear that thinking out.
A few of our rooms are not be open, in particular the smaller rooms (although key works from them are visible to visitors, including Leonardo's Virgin of the Rocks).
However, many of the normally publicly accessible rooms will be open in a one-way system with visitors entering via the Sainsbury Wing accessible doors. In order to comply with health and safety requirements and social distancing, we are offering three art routes, and signage in the building and maps in print and online will enable people to plan their visits.
Visitors can choose to explore route A, as well as route B or/and route C. Both route B and C pass through the Impressionist galleries and end at the toilets, café, shop and exit.

— Are there any positive changes in social networks?
We serve a digital audience of over 10 million people every year, with a digital reach to hundreds of millions of people. Since we closed, there have been record increases in visits to some of our online content, by more than 2000% on last year – therefore when lockdown happened we launched a major digital programme bringing art to people's homes across our social media, website and emails
- A Curated Look- curators give talks on the Gallery's pictures from their living rooms and the first inspires people to look at the way artists have painted what is around them. For instance, Francesca Whitlum-Cooper talks about paintings from the Gallery's collection that celebrate domestic activities such as playing music and card games. Among the works Whitlum-Cooper discusses are Chardin's The House of Cards, Manet's Eva Gonzalez, Degas's Combing the Hair and Vermeer's Young Woman Standing at a Virginal.
-A series of online tutorials on "slow looking" will develop the Gallery's mindfulness programme by showing visitors how to look at pictures in depth and explore hidden details. The first of these asks us to take a closer, slower look at Turner's Rain Steam and Speed.
- In Make and Create visitors are given suggestions and instructions for making and creating art works at home, inspired by the collection. Families will be invited to use their old newspapers and magazines to create a collage inspired by painting, including Rousseau's depiction of a tiger prowling in the undergrowth, Surprised!
For those people unable to see the nation's paintings in person at this time, the National Gallery will continue to work hard to bring its pictures to their homes in the major digital programme it launched after the doors in Trafalgar Square temporarily shut. Through its digital initiatives the National Gallery will continue to be open 24/7 with free art for everyone, anywhere, online.
— Are there any changes in the gallery's activities?
There can be little doubt that at times of crisis, art, culture and museums have a very important role to play. Museums provide a kind of certainty and confidence, they provide solace and engagement, they cater both to the individual and the community, they have shown themselves to be innovative in the use of digital technology and the provision of valuable content. We will become more discerning and more selective about where we deploy our human, intellectual and financial resources going forward.

— Will the entrance to the museum remain free (without fees)?
Visiting the National Gallery for free is a privilege that stretches back almost 200 years. It is something generations of the British public have enjoyed and benefitted from and signals the importance that we attribute to our national museums. We strongly feel that it is a key part of our national life, and we are keen to maintain it.

— What plans The National Gallery has at the moment?
We are proud to have been the first national art museum to reopen in the UK after the coronavirus lockdown. We have been delighted to reunite the nation with its collection, and we are now looking forward to opening our hugely anticipated "Artemisia" exhibition on 3 October.

— In your opinion, what is the most important factor in the interaction of museums with each other??
At the National Gallery we are committed to supporting museums throughout the UK, with loans, exhibition support and technical know-how. Crises like these make it even clearer that solidarity in the cultural sector is crucially important.
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