After nearly four months when the only people who could appreciate their treasures were security guards and the occasional curator, London’s leading museums and galleries are starting to reopen. For those who attend, social distancing practices, and reduced numbers offers the chance to see world famous paintings in remarkably uncrowded circumstances. But prior planning will be required.
First up on July 8 will be the National Gallery. While entry to Titian: Love, Desire Death will cost £12 for adults, admission to the main collection will continue to be free to the main collection, but visitors will also need to pre-book. Face coverings will be encouraged and hand-sanitiser stations will be in place throughout the museum. Entry will be via the Sainsbury entrance and for the main collection, a one-way system will be in place with three different routes.
Route A focusses on the Renaissance, including Botticelli, van Eyck, Leonardo, Memling, Michelangelo, Raphael, Piero and Uccello. Route B concentrates on 18th and 19th century interiors with Caravaggio, Rubens, Velazquez, Vermeer, Rembrandt, Monet and Seurat, while Route C looks at landscape with paintings by Bronzino, Canaletto, Gainsborough, Holbein, Hogarth, Turner and Van Gogh. A cashless system will be in place in the shop and the cafe will be takeaway only.
A day later, the Royal Academy of Arts, on July 9, will open, initially for just its Friends, with general opening on July 16, initially from Thursday to Sunday, 11am – 4pm. The Picasso and Paper exhibition in the Main Galleries has been extended until August 2, will be on view in the Main Galleries. Face coverings will be essential. Gauguin and the Impressionists: Masterpieces from the Ordrupgaard Collection will run from August 7 to October 18 2020 and the Summer Exhibition will take place in Main Galleries during the autumn and winter, from October 6 2020 to January 3 2021.
The two Tate museums in London open on July 29. The Tate Modern will resume its Andy Warhol exhibition and Kara Walker’s Hyundai Commission Fons Americanus in the Turbine Hall. Tate Britain will reopen with Aubrey Beardsley and Steve McQueen’s Year 3 installation. (Outside the capital, Tate Liverpool will unveil new work by Mikhail Karikis, and Tate St Ives will reopen its Naum Gabo exhibition.). Tickets will be available on the main website www.tate.org.uk. All galleries will have timed entry, limit numbers and use a one-way system; while admission is charged for exhibitions, entry to the main collections is free.
While the V&A still has to announce its opening plans, some of London’s smaller museums are opening in July as well. The Foundling Museum in Bloomsbury, which has an enviable art collection – Hogarth was an early patron – is ‘Portraying Pregnancy: from Holbein to Social Media’ exploring the representation of the pregnant female body in portraiture. The Barbican Art Gallery will reopen on July 13 with Masculinities: Liberation through Photography from Monday 13 July 2020, with the show’s run being extended until 23 August 2020. A Countervailing Theory, the first-ever UK commission from Toyin Ojih Odutola, will open on Tuesday August 11 in The Curve area.