The American painter, Helen Frankenthaler, described how ‘every canvas is a journey all its own’. Dealing with the effects of coronavirus (COVID-19) has been similar – its own unique journey through uncharted terrain. Nowhere is this more true than in the world of museums and heritage; the phrase ‘unprecedented times’ has, perhaps, been overused, but it certainly rings true for the sector. And, I suppose, for everyday life. We really are making our way through uncharted waters.
Coronavirus has had negative effects on lives, health, jobs and the economy, but it has also provided opportunities. People have gone on a journey of rediscovery, exploring the wealth of natural and man made heritage on their doorstep. Let’s hope this positive trend for exploring nature, history, and heritage continues.
Museums and heritage sites across the UK are beginning to fling open their doors and welcome visitors (albeit with booking systems, social distancing, masks and so on). Locally, I’ve been pleased to see the Artwave annual arts festival go ahead, as well as some of the museums and galleries near me tentatively begin to reopen, with precautions. Sites such as Pallant House Gallery, the Hastings Contemporary, Hastings Museum & Art Gallery and the English Heritage managed Battle Abbey & Battlefield have started to open to visitors. If you’re based in the area, follow the links to find out more about booking tickets and visiting.
Lewes Castle and the Museum of Sussex Archaeology has now reopened from Thursdays to Sundays throughout September. I popped in yesterday afternoon to take a look at their current exhibition, In A Field Of Flowers, which explores botanical art in the Sussex Archaeological Society collections. From prints and drawings to a box of C. Rowney watercolour paints, it’s a fascinating and varied exhibition. The bright, clear and warm September day was also perfect for a stroll through the Castle grounds. With bee boxes set amongst the flowerbeds in the Gun Garden, it was great to see that local wildlife is being actively encouraged. The beautiful blue skies also proved a stunning backdrop for the panoramic views from the historic castle keep. Do pay them a visit if you can.
My workplace, the Royal Pavilion & Museums, have started a gradual reopening process. The Royal Pavilion is now open to visitors – you’ll need to book a timed ticket beforehand. For more information, take a look at their Visitor FAQ page here. I hope to see you soon.
Whether you’re eager to get to a museum, or perhaps being a bit more cautious, I hope you enjoy your next visit to a heritage site. Safely.
Have you visited any heritage sites lately? Or perhaps you’ve been exploring the natural heritage around you? Let me know what history and heritage you’ve been enjoying in the comments!