I wasn’t enormously thrilled about how the British Museum handled their visitor flow yesterday, with people clustered together. However, the National Gallery, to quote a phrase of someone I know, surprised and delighted me with their arrangements.
Visitors go to the Sainsbury Wing Entrance and the time of the ticket is clear, turn up no more than fifteen minutes before. There was a staff member guiding visitors and he was helpful, giving clear instructions to everyone and there was plenty of space for people to wait. I liked this, he was chatty and welcomed visitors with a smile and those without tickets were dealt with politely.
The member of security staff was humorous, engaged and keen to welcome visitors. I admit that mine was the first bag of the day that he had to check, but nonetheless, he smiled and made conversation. And, the staff at the gallery were all engaging and they looked like they wanted to be there. Two staff were talking to each other about a painting, a moment which it occurred to me that I’ve never seen before. The staff were pro-active and welcoming visitors, giving the impression that their role was that of aiding the visit of someone new to the gallery (or someone experienced wanting help), rather than just being there for security.
The gallery has information about every one of its artworks on-line, and this is useful and accessible. It added an extra dimension to the artworks, although that had the disadvantage that I stayed for three hours and still didn’t even get half-way round. I’ve booked another ticket on-line for in two weeks, but this experience reminded me that the National Gallery is, along with the Met in New York, perhaps the best gallery in the world.
Impeccable and a perfect example of how to handle visitors during these uncertain times. And below, some photos of the galleries…