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The Beaney museum in Canterbury to reopen with an exhibition looking at lockdown

An exploration of life under lockdown will be at the heart of the reopening of the Beaney House of Art of Knowledge next week.

The Canterbury City Council-run museum will open its doors on Tuesday, July 21, after closing in March.

The Beaney will be exploring lockdown when it reopens
The Beaney will be exploring lockdown when it reopens

At the start of lockdown, the team set up a diary to document the experiences of people living, working and studying in the area under the government restrictions.

From Crisis Hub staff and volunteers to teachers and schoolchildren, the diary has seen contributions from all walks of life, with their entries being turned into a poem by poet Anthony Anaxagorou.

And instead of the usual keep-your-distance markers, local visual artist Lucy Oram has also interpreted the poem into waymarkers that guide people around the museum.

The words and visuals track the highs and lows of lockdown as visitors move through the city’s collection of art and artefacts.

The project is a collaboration with the Wise Words festival as well as being part of the Beaney's Arts Council England-funded health and wellbeing work.

Both the diary and poem will become part of the city’s social history collection at the museum.

Museums and cultural programme director Michelle Moubarak said: “The diary is so moving and I am delighted with Anthony and Lucy’s interpretation of the work.

“We felt it was really important to help people explore the extraordinary experience that was lockdown and to give them a way to talk about and process what has been happening around us.”

British-born Cypriot poet Anthony Anaxagorou said: “It felt that maybe I too needed to write this for my own peace of mind, so thank you for giving me the opportunity.”

The museum and galleries will open with a one-way system, with the main entrance via Best Lane only and the exit into the High Street while other changes include hour-long visit sessions to manage visitor numbers with booking in advance recommended, though people can book in on arrival, subject to availability.

And another change will be that the scaffolding which has been up since November is due to come down after a £230,000 restoration project.

The Beaney will be scaffolding-free soon Picture: The Beaney, Canterbury
The Beaney will be scaffolding-free soon Picture: The Beaney, Canterbury

The walk will be accompanied by a free family-friendly gallery trail to help guests get the most out of their visit.

Council leader Cllr Rob Thomas added: "Our brilliant staff, many of whom worked at the Crisis Hub during lockdown, have put everything into making sure visitors can return with confidence, while being able to enjoy as much of the museum's displays and galleries as possible. It is the latest step of the reopening of the city centre.”

Visitors will be able to explore lockdown and The Beaney's collection Picture: The Beaney, Canterbury
Visitors will be able to explore lockdown and The Beaney's collection Picture: The Beaney, Canterbury

To book your free visiting slot, go to thebeaney.co.uk Details will be requested for track and trace purposes and entry donations are encouraged.

The café and toilets will remain closed and some other services to start with, such as the library section which will reopen in early August. The city's Roman Museum is due to reopen in early August.

For more venues reopening and culture news across Kent click here.


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