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Natural History Museum
Photograph: pio3/

London’s museums have been hit by a wave of Covid closures

The Natural History Museum is now shut, but its ice rink glides on

Sarah Cohen
Written by
Sarah Cohen

It’s not just restaurants, bars and theatres that are feeling the Omicron effect in London. Several major museums have closed due to staff shortages and concern for public safety. The school holidays are usually a busy time for such institutions, so these closures will deliver a serious blow.

The Natural History Museum, the UK’s second most-visited museum after Tate Modern, will be shut from today (December 21) for a week, but hopes to reopen on Tuesday December 28. All tickets already bought for its exhibitions ‘Wildlife Photographer of the Year’ and ‘Fantastic Beasts: the Wonder of Nature’ between these dates will be cancelled and refunded. Thankfully, the museum’s outdoor ice rink is unaffected by this closure, so you can skate into Christmas as planned.

The Wellcome Collection is not so optimistic. It closed on Friday ‘until further notice’, saying it will ‘monitor the situation and government advice’. Other casualties include the Foundling Museum in Bloomsbury, Camden Art Centre and the National Army Museum, all of which will now be closed until early January. The Museum of the Home’s last day until next year is on Thursday December 23, due to staff shortages. And Sir John Soane's Museum will close for a week from tomorrow (December 22). The British Museum says it is staying open but may need to close some galleries at short notice.

The government has just announced that there will be a £30 million bailout package for arts organisations in the UK, paid through the Culture Recovery Fund. Hopefully some of the museums that have had to close – and those that are struggling on with vastly reduced visitor numbers – will benefit from this.

Things to buy to support London’s cultural venues.

The restaurants and bars shutting early because of Covid.

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