There is still no way of knowing when we will come through the COVID-19 pandemic and when we will have unrestricted access to cultural institutions once again. Nonetheless, museums, galleries, theatres and cultural spaces around the world are currently opening again. The protective measures to be observed vary from country to country and often even from region to region. Two design studios have now published proposals featuring innovative and effective measures that museums could implement in the interests of the safety of the visitors and staff. MD-2 Architects have developed Draughtsman, a spatial agenda inspired by a chequerboard, for Het Nieuwe Instituut in Rotterdam. The idea is founded on the clear division of space, defined traffic areas and suggestions regarding how display pieces at an exhibition might be approached. The floor visibly presents the rules: black squares are used for circulation, with visitors moving diagonally to an adjacent unoccupied square, while the white squares are used for equipping the space. The team sees its intervention as both a solution proposal and an invitation to deviate from the usual paths. Likewise, the design office Isometric Studio based in Brooklyn, New York, has published a Toolkit for Museum Reopening. Divided into three main sections, it offers ideas for exhibitions both indoors and out as well as for virtual exhibits. The recommendations include timed entry, masks which serve as tickets and floor graphics and signs to manage visitor circulation. Detailed proposals are made for room division and visitor circulation, room ventilation, tools and frameworks with which contact can be minimised while maximising the effect. The aim of the project is to enable museums to reopen safely and with a new goal. In a time of health crisis and social transformation, museums are more important than ever, says the studio: “Museums have the unique capability to help us learn from history, make sense of these troubled times, and cultivate new language and iconography to imagine and build a more just world. We hope that the design strategies offered in this toolkit can serve as a foundation for museums to continue to fulfill this critical mission.” Isometric Studio’s toolkit can be downloaded from the website.
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