Wednesday 18th March 2020 is a date that the staff at London Museum of Water & Steam will never forget, it was the date we closed down the Museum for the first time during the COVID 19 pandemic.
We had visitors in on Sunday 15th, not many and the Museum felt quiet, everyone knew something was coming. We welcomed Engine Shed (now All Aboard Club) into the building and their families with autism spent a happy time playing with trains together. We had no idea that they would be the last families in the building for a long time.
On the Monday 16th we had our last school visit. Gemma remembers children excited by needing to use hand gel and having their temperature taken during the day. But it was all starting to feel very odd. That day we started the process of closing the Museum, you can read about that in this blog I wrote at the time.
Over the past year we have been through so many ups and downs as a Museum. The highs have included being able to reopen the outside for the summer, welcoming community groups back into the building, building up wonderful new partnerships and reopening the Museum buildings for October, with a new café team.
We gained funding from Arts Council England and National Lottery Heritage Fund to keep us going financially and enabling us to make much needed changes, as well as support from Thames Water, Creative Land Trust and Hounslow Council Recovery Fund. We have also raised funds from our individual supporters, from donations to support for fundraising activities, which has all kept us going this year
The lows have been not being able to be together as a Museum team, with staff furloughed for most of the year, or working from home and volunteers unable to fulfil their volunteer roles. During the year we have had staff leave us, and we are not in a position to refill those roles at the moment. We have made many tough decisions about how we spend the little unrestricted funds we have in order to make sure the Museum saves as much money as possible to keep the organisation going for when things are better.
I would like to take this moment to say a massive thank you to the staff, trustees, volunteers, members, community members and visitors who have supported us over the last year, we could not have done it with out you. Your lovely emails, Zooms, social media comments and chats when I have been able to see you in person have kept me going during the many tough times.
So as we start to look forward in hope to re-opening hopefully in May, we can’t wait to see you all again. We will need you all to visit, bring a friend, and another friend! Refill the Museum with fun, noise and laughter again.
Keep safe and see you soon