The Postal Museum is delighted to have been awarded £30,000 from Art Fund for an inclusive reopening.

The £30,000 award from Art Fund, a Respond and Reimagine grant, supports the Museum’s plans to place children, families and visitors with additional needs at the heart of re-opening plans.

The Museum is a hands-on experience, with broad ranging interactives from touch screens and games to oral histories and trails, which bring the unique collection to life in an accessible way for visitors. Much of what makes a visit special, especially for families and visitors with additional needs, required adapting to make safe in this new normal.

The award from the Art Fund means The Postal Museum can maintain the participatory and inclusive experience visitors enjoy, through physical upgrades and collaborative work on accessibility with expert partners.

What is the funding being used for?

The Postal Museum are collaborating with established partners Ambitious About Autism. Working with their outstanding Youth Panel, pre-visit resources developed with young people with Autism Spectrum Conditions (ASC) in 2019 will be updated. This includes Visual Stories describing what to expect on a visit and videos scripted and presented by young people with ASC, which help to counteract barriers to visiting. The expert team at Ambitious About Autism also used virtual and on-site visits to give feedback on new one-way routes, information and signage.

Physical changes funding has enabled includes permanent upgrades to interactives, such as proximity sensors to replace buttons and speakers with auto-play functionality to replace headsets throughout galleries spaces. Other innovations made possible include providing all visitors with their own eco-friendly and reusable stylus pens for touch screens, installing hand sanitiser points and changing donation points from cash only to include contactless.

Laura Wright, CEO, The Postal Museum said:

“The museum has a hugely accessible collection and our spaces are designed to be participatory, hands-on and utterly inclusive. We wanted to ensure that changes we needed to make did not diminish the experience of inclusivity and above all fun a visit to The Postal Museum provides. This grant from Art Fund has enabled us to reimagine the experience with our partners and audiences in a collaborative way. We’re grateful for the support and look forward to opening again for our visitors soon.”

Reopening the museum safely

The museum was open for 4 days before a second national lockdown was announced. Physical changes were installed before the museum’s first opening in October and outstanding visitor feedback was received. 86% reported using adapted interactives, 100% rated their enjoyment of the experience excellent or good and 100% of visitors reported they felt safe on a visit. Pre-visit resources for visitors with ASC will be available on the website in December.

Together for Museums

Art Fund’s Respond and Reimagine grants offer flexible and responsive funding to help museums adapt to the challenges of the Covid-19 crisis and reimagine future ways of working. The UK’s museums provide inspiration, joy and education, enriching lives and bringing communities closer together, but the impact of Covid-19 has been catastrophic for many. In the last six months, Art Fund received applications totalling over 16.9m from 451 organisations for its £2.25m Respond and Reimagine funding, which is now exhausted. But with 60% of museums Art Fund recently surveyed worried about their survival, and 92% of museums saying they need to ‘adapt and innovate’, the charity has launched an urgent new public fundraising appeal: Together for Museums. It aims to raise £1 million to help more museums adapt to today’s challenges and evolve. Art Fund is appealing to the public to make donations of any size. From just £25, unique objects and artworks are available as rewards, donated by leading artists including Lubaina Himid, Anish Kapoor, Michael Landy, Melanie Manchot and David Shrigley.