Practical things you can do while your museum is closed due to COVID-19

With museums closing their doors to the public, as mandated by the government’s response to COVID-19, a number of our Museum Advisors have reported behind-the-scenes projects being undertaken at volunteer-run museums.

Having a museum closed for an indefinite time provides an unusual opportunity to focus on the tasks that are often too difficult to do whilst focusing on visitor needs and interaction.

Tasks that can be done include:

Collection Care
  • Creating a plan or schedule of tasks that require attention.
  • Checking the condition of objects on display and in storage.
  • Conservation cleaning of objects, including brush cleaning or vacuum cleaning.
  • Review collection documentation. Museum closure give time to consider which objects are the most significant and to ensure that you have them well documented.
  • Ensure that pest control measures are in place. Even when closed to the public, museum buildings and collections require care. With spaces temporarily empty due to, there is potential for increased pest activity. ⁣⁣Install rodent baits; remove any food; and ensure to maintain cleaning schedules where possible.
Review procedures
  • Review handling procedures for different materials and object typed (eg. when to wear gloves or not and, if so, what types of gloves).
  • Review your Strategic Plan, and develop a Collections Policy and Disaster Plan for your organisation.
  • What has these unprecedented times revealed about your organisation? For example, perhaps it’s time to focus on your museum’s digital presence as an alternate way to share your collection and activities.
  • Apply for grants – research what grants you may be eligible to apply for and can help you run projects once you re-open to the public.

M&G has an extensive range of online resources that can be used for the above activities. These include:

Handling museum objects

Plan and prioritise for collection care

Why aren’t you wearing gloves? The conservators’ guide to object handling in the British Museum

Why should I wear gloves?

Condition reports – a ‘how-to’ guide

Cleaning in museums

How to brush vacuum an object

Significance 2.0: a guide to assessing the significance of collections


Writing a Strategic Plan

Thinking about: Collection policies

How to develop a disaster plan

If you do decide tackle some of these tasks, remember to implement safe practices and social distancing by restricting the number of volunteers in the room to 2 and keeping 2 metres apart.

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