Museums and the Pandemic

Image Credit: Nurina Iman Nizam

Caoimhe Mahon and Lauren Cassidy take us through how Dublin museums are dealing with the Coronavirus

The past six months have been filled with many ups and downs as we all learn to adapt to life during a global pandemic. At the time of writing, lockdown restrictions are beginning to ease and more of us are venturing outdoors for both work and leisure, so the question as to how we can rediscover our hobbies, whilst remaining safe and reducing the spread of Covid-19, is on everyone's lips. 

Each establishment mentioned is doing their very best to create a literary environment that is both safe and enjoyable for both staff and visitors alike. Therefore, in order for us all to continue to enjoy these places through the global pandemic, it is crucial that we recognise the responsibility that we all have in ensuring we abide by these rules that form our, ‘new normal,’ and therefore, play our part in preventing the spread of Covid-19. 

National Library:

During this unprecedented time, The National Library is working to capture the socio-political zeitgeist, archiving websites that report on political and public responses to Covid-19. According to their website, The National Library aims to create a Covid-19 collection in order to ensure “that the Irish story of this global pandemic and the efforts of Irish people to combat the coronavirus are collected and preserved for future generations”. 

The National Library is working hard to adapt to the national health guidelines. Visitors must wear face masks everywhere in the library, unless you are eating at their café. Groups who attend the library must limit their party to six people, from no more than three distinct households. The Library has introduced a new one-way access route, and screens have been installed at counters. Hand sanitisers and wipes are also available.

Similar to protocols in place before the Pandemic, visitors require a Reader’s Ticket to access the Reading Rooms. You must book your appointment to the Readings Rooms before arrival and can reserve no more than eight items. While the number of appointments to the Reading Rooms have been reduced, they are open from Monday to Friday, between 10am to 4pm.

These rules apply for the Main Reading Room, the Manuscript Reading Room and the Family History Room. The National Photographic Archive Reading Room, its exhibitions, and the World War Ireland exhibition are all closed. 


Like many establishments whose doors have recently reopened, a visit to the Museum of Literature Ireland (MoLI) will not simply be ‘business as usual.’ Instead, a number of measures have been established within the museum to ensure your visit is both enjoyable and safe. 

Among MoLI’s new safety measures is an online booking system, which guarantees your entry upon arrival. The purchasing of tickets prior to arrival ensures sufficient space within the spacious rooms of the museum for you to enjoy the exhibitions at your leisure whilst maintaining social distancing of two metres. 

Visitors will still be able to experience an array of exhibitions. A hands-free format will be adopted to prevent contamination. Dispersal of hand sanitising stations throughout the museum helps promote cleanliness and regular use, reassuring visitors of their safety. All measures come under the guidance of Irish Government guidelines, and so face masks are compulsory within the museum. These measures impact both staff and visitors alike. Upon arrival your contact details will be taken through a Perspex screen to ensure your safety even after your visit has ended by enforcing contract tracing amongst visitors. Clearly, MoLI’s adaptation of the ‘new normal,’ is well in order to welcome their visitors back to a safe space where they can feel reassured that the necessary measures are in place to return to their love of literature whilst reducing the spread of Covid. 

Dublin Writers Museum:

With all the time that the Dublin Writers Museum has spent closed to the public, the staff has been able to invest energy and effort into remodelling the museum’s interior dynamics to cater to its visitors' needs in the midst of the global pandemic. 

In the current climate of uncertainty that engulfs us many of us have decided to swap our sandy, sun-kissed holidays abroad for an Irish ‘staycation’ - a term that appears to be the stylish new phrase on every advertisement about. With the aim of quenching your literary thirst during your ‘staycation,’ activities at the Dublin Writers Museum encourages all to prebook tickets prior to arrival, ensuring a safe number of visitors are welcomed into the museum and adhering to guidelines which align with the Government regulations to reduce the spread of Covid-19. 

Attractions at the Dublin Writers Museum include everything from opening night programmes of Wilde’s An Ideal Husband and Lady Windermere’s Fan to a first edition of Bram Stoker’s Dracula. Portraits, letters, books and personal items of many Irish writers such as Yeats, Shaw and Beckett are also on display. It is clear that the Dublin Writers Museum is doing their very best to create a literary environment that is both safe and enjoyable for both staff and visitors alike.