Preparing your museum for temporary closure

Top Priority

  • Make sure that more than one or two people know how your building works and who to contact for what. Set up multiple tiers of backup. Draw on your staff, volunteers, and Trustees to set up systems and communications that will ensure our buildings and collections are protected for the future.

Your workforce (staff, volunteers, Trustees)

  • Devise a plan for managing your workforce during lockdown.  Are staff being put on furlough?  Are staff able to work remotely from home?
  • Update your team’s contact details so that you have a clear way of getting in touch with those working from home or on furlough.
  • Do staff have the necessary equipment to work from home?  Can they access their work emails and phone messages from home?
  • Set up a ‘virtual’ meeting account (e.g. Zoom or Teams) to support remote working.
  • Update your website and work ‘out of office’ email messages to let visitors know that your museum is temporarily closed, and how they can get in touch during lockdown.
  • Identify team members who will visit the museums during lockdown for security checks. Keep the list of actions for site visits simple and prioritise. Use limited time in the building most effectively.
  • Identify team members (possibly Trustees) who will lead on any urgent issues during lockdown.
  • Encourage your team to sign up for the South East Museum Development’s free e-newsletter to stay informed about measures affecting the museum sector, and possible funding support.

Buildings Insurance

  • Check your insurance company’s minimum requirements for security and maintenance checks, and for building occupation levels and arrange to comply

Building Security and Environment

  • Ensure the physical perimeter security is secured.
  • Maintain a minimum staffing level where possible to ensure alarms and the environment are monitored and maintained as necessary.
  • Where buildings and open sites do not have the benefit of staff on site, the buildings should have alarm systems, possibly CCTV and environmental monitoring systems. These should be accessible to nominated people who can act should an issue arise. Where possible, random checks of the exterior of buildings or open sites are recommended.
  • Visit at least once in each 7-day period to check systems and refresh environmental measures; some insurance policies may require more regular visits. As the lock-down proceeds, staff and volunteers undertaking security and collections checks may need evidence that their trip is essential. Ask the Director or Chair to provide you with a letter outlining the essential nature of your travel.
  • Record checks and visits to site, including who, when and where they are made and any action required/taken to ensure the wellbeing and security of objects. Where it has not been possible to visit a site due to current restrictions, this should also be recorded. This may be required in the event of any potential future insurance claim.
  • Emphasise to museum staff and volunteers the need to use social media carefully, with no reference to closed/empty buildings (buildings perceived as being empty are already being targeted). Update your social media policy to reflect this approach.

Fire Safety

  • Ensure that all fire alarms and associated systems are functioning and continue to be maintained.
  • Ensure that all non-essential equipment is powered down where possible.

Buildings and Equipment Maintenance

  • Instigate or enhance daily, weekly, and monthly checking systems. (Museum Development Officers can provide example checklists for adaptation.)
  • Keep a list of actions for site visits simple, and prioritise them carefully. Use limited time in the building most effectively.


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