DCMS blog

Wallace Collection: Bringing life back into the galleries

Sarah Harmer


Sarah Harmer

Director of Development, The Wallace Collection

The Wallace Collection reopens this week after almost exactly 17 weeks of closure. Except for the two World Wars, this period has been the first time the Collection has closed to the public since we opened in 1900. We are incredibly excited to be welcoming back staff and visitors to the Collection – bringing life back into the galleries and sharing our works of art with the public – and we have been working hard to make all of the necessary adjustments to ensure the space is safe.

Hertford House was the residence of our founders, and some of the galleries are quite small by modern museum standards. One of our main challenges has been how to allow visitors to access these intimate spaces whilst safeguarding them and our staff.

All visitors will now need to book a free, timed ticket to visit the Collection; by limiting numbers, we are able to control the flow of people through the building. In this first phase, there will be 15 visitors every 15 minutes. We’ve also changed our opening hours, reducing them to 11:00am to 3:00pm. This will make certain our staff don’t have to travel on public transportation at busy times.

Welcome back

We’ve gone bright yellow

Although we haven’t been able to reopen the whole museum, we have created a one-way system through the galleries that allows the public to access just over half of the galleries at the Collection, including the Great Gallery, probably our grandest space full of treasures. Because audioguides and the information sheets normally on offer in the galleries won’t be allowed, we have created an online trail of highlights for visitors to access.

We have implemented an enhanced cleaning regime (particularly around touch points) and provided hand santiser stations at various points throughout the museum. Our galleries are now full of signage that is immediately visible to ensure visitors know exactly where to go and how to socially distance – we’ve gone for bright yellow, an unusual aesthetic choice for the Wallace Collection! We are also training our staff, both on the new procedures and on how to make visitors feel comfortable in this new environment.

Front hall of Wallace collection

‘Safe and protected’

The website is now full of information and FAQs for visitors, and everyone who books a ticket will receive an email before their visit outlining what they can expect when they arrive. We will also be sending follow up emails to see how we did and ask visitors for feedback. Our number one priority has been to ensure everyone feels safe and protected so that they can enjoy all of the masterpieces the Wallace Collection has on display.

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