German museums begin to reopen with hygiene precautions in place

As German authorities slowly ease their lockdown restrictions, museums in Berlin and Brandenburg begin to reopen.

Museums in Berlin have been told they can reopen on 4 May with restrictions in place, while museums in Brandenburg state have already began to reopen. Museums in the state of Thuringia will be able to reopen from 28 April according to The Art Newspaper.

Hygiene measures in place

Museums that have reopened in Brandenburg have put several hygiene restrictions in place. These include plexiglass shields for ticketing desks, frequent cleaning of galleries and limiting visitor numbers.

Group tours have been cancelled, and the Brandenburg Museum Association suggested extending opening hours to accommodate limiting visitor numbers. It also suggested that special time slots for those in at-risk categories could be implemented.

Berlin has slowly been showing signs of life. Artnet News reports that commercial galleries in the city began to reopen on 20 April with certain recommendations in place. These include wearing a mask, entering one at a time and limiting the time spent inside.

In a recent statement, the German Association of Museums said that “With a gradual and carefully organised re-opening of the museums, we can set an important sign for a slow but safe return to normality.” It issued hygiene guidelines that were similar to the Brandenburg Museum Association’s recommendations.

The cost of restrictions

However, these recommendations will cost museums. The Association recognised that reducing visitor numbers will result in a lower income. Furthermore, museums may have to increase staff “to implement distance and hygiene rules.”

Additional costs may also be incurred in purchasing extra cleaning supplies and plexiglass shields. The Association is, therefore, asking politicians the sponsors to support museums during a difficult transition period.

However, it may take a while for some of the large museums in Berlin to reopen, as some of these hygiene measures could take a while to implement.

Remaining cautious

And in a report in Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, Berlin’s mayor Michael Müller remained cautious about this reopening. He said that there is no “general all-clear” and said that the situation remains “very, very fragile.” It remains to be seen whether these restrictions will be enough, or if museums will have to close again.

Museums around the world are likely going to watch Berlin’s reopening carefully to see how effective these measures are, and if they can be applied to their own reopening strategies.

Whilst the majority of museums closed around the world, museum curators are remaining engaged with visitors on social media. The #CreepiestObject hashtag has become very popular, with curators revealing the weirdest objects in their collections.

Image: Hamburger Bahnhof