Comment from Rhiannon Goddard, Historic Royal Palaces

This time of year is usually incredibly busy as we all start to get ready for a new season. Setting up new displays and exhibitions, welcoming back volunteers and stocking up the shop are normal activities but normal has changed now. So how are we all dealing with these challenging times, changing rules and the prospect of another, potentially hard, season ahead?

Well, it seems light is at the end of the tunnel with more of the population being vaccinated so, perhaps, the summer will see the welcome return of our visitors. Over the time we have all learnt the art of spinning 180 at the blink of eye and have had to find depths of resilience as individuals and teams to deal with all the changes and the personal and collective grief this virus has brought.

Out of this hopefully we can take some good and put into practise some of more positive changes that we have had to make so quickly and unexpectedly and create what is being referred to as a ‘new normal’.

For example, many of us have successfully worked at home, although being away from our sites, objects and teammates isn’t ideal, it is possible. More home working will benefit us all in the long term. Less travel time means more time at home with loved ones, and it is better for the planet.

Meetings held remotely are more accessible for disabled people as they do not require travel, can benefit from captioning for those who are hard of hearing or Deaf and can be recorded for later if needed. Time in a quiet place away from the bustle of the office means reports get written more quickly and emails can be sorted without interruption.

But I don’t know about you, but I miss the interaction with colleagues and the ready access to beautiful architecture and objects. A balance of home working and office-based activity would be my ideal.

We also need to consider what a post-COVID audience will want from museums, will it be the same? Will people want to attend in large groups anymore? I think the social aspect of attending a museum or heritage site with friends and family may become even more important and our children need new experiences and input outside of the formal education setting even more than ever.

There is a lot of think about and to plan for and the start of Spring feels like just the right time to start looking forward with more hope and daring to plan for our perfect ‘new normal’!

Rhiannon Goddard, Head of Public Engagement Projects and Business Management, Historic Royal Palaces London, and AIM Board member.