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Gradual return as cultural sites begin to reopen

The John Mackintosh Hall, the Library and art galleries will soon reopen as Gibraltar slowly edges out of the Covid-19 lockdown.

Gibraltar Cultural Services CEO Seamus Byrne told the Chronicle the pandemic had posed a challenge for his team, with events postponed or moved online.

During the lockdown, Cultural Services provided an online programme including storytelling and archive footage of shows and performances.

GCS had also held art and short story competitions virtually, with the annual Spring Visual Arts competition judged online.

Next Tuesday the John Mackintosh Hall, the Library, and the Mario Finlayson National Art Gallery, GEMA Gallery and the Fine Arts Gallery will reopen.

Mr Byrne said the reopening of these facilities adhered to Gibraltar Government public health guidelines and precautions had been taken.

There will be thermal screening, similar to that at the frontier, at the entrance of John Mackintosh Hall.
The opening hours of the Mario Finlayson National Art Gallery and the Fine Arts Gallery have been reduced. The galleries will open on Monday to Friday from 10am to 2pm.

The GEMA Gallery will reopen Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 11am to 3pm and Tuesdays and Thursdays 11am to 6pm.

GEMA will feature the Cosmos Exhibition by Victor Quintanilla.

The number of visitors at any one time will be strictly controlled and there will be hand sanitisers provided.

The John Mackintosh Hall will reopen its main door for accessing The Library Café and Public Library only.

The Café will be opened solely as a takeaway service from 9am to 3pm and can be contacted on telephone 200 65222.

Mr Byrne said he is “very proud of my team”, which had to quickly convert its cultural diary and plans to an online format.

“It has been a challenge but they have stepped up to the plate and delivered,” Mr Byrne said.

He added that culture had played an important role in the community during the pandemic by keeping people’s spirits high and entertained.

GCS will continue its work within the building behind closed doors.

Future plans include a LEGO exhibition and an exhibition of portraits of frontline workers.

For now, all public events remain under review.

The John Mackintosh Hall Public Library will aim to exclusively focus the opening on the lending of books.

The Reference section will be closed, and use of computers and related services, and reading of newspapers will not be accessible in a bid to reduce contact and exposure of users.

Opening times for the Library will be 10am to 2pm by appointment only, and this can be arranged by calling GCS on 20075669.

Access to the Library will be restricted to five people every 15 minutes.

Members of the public are encouraged to view books online and try and make their selections before they come into the facility.

Members of staff will attempt to pick these books out prior to their attendance to the Library, or on arrival.

Loaning of books will continue in the usual manner, but procedures upon their return have changed.

Books are to be returned and placed in a book bin with an opening through which books are left by the reader.

The book bin will then be processed by a GCS staff member in a controlled environment after 24 hours, with limited access.

All book returns will be kept apart from the remainder of the lending collection and handled by GCS staff member wearing gloves and masks. GCS staff will sanitise covers with an antiviral wipe.

Museum to open doors after virtual success

The Gibraltar National Museum will open its doors this Tuesday and is currently taking bookings.

The Museum will be open only by appointment with the public encouraged to pre-book their slots.

This follows the Museum’s first Virtual Open Day held on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

During the day there was a reach of 15,745 (an increase of 152% on the previous day) on Facebook which included 5,847 post engagements (an increase of 463% on the previous day).

An array of posts, including videos, were uploaded between 10am and 6pm with an introductory clip from the Minister for Heritage, Dr John Cortes, starting proceedings at 9.30am.

“The organisers were delighted with the response and the Virtual Museum will continue to post items on our rich history, natural history and heritage even after lockdown is over,” the Gibraltar Government said in a statement.

“The Virtual Museum has become a window for the museum to be able to show off its collections, many of which might, for reasons of conservation or of space, not be on show at any particular moment.”

“Part of the museum’s forward plan will now be to expand its reach to an international audience, using it as a way of promoting Gibraltar’s historical and cultural diversity to a global community.”

To book a visit to the Museum email: enquiries@gibmuseum.gi or telephone: 200 74289 (Mondays to Fridays, 10am to 6pm).