Glasgow Museums for Staff
Museums Staff Update Thursday 22 October
In September we were delighted to welcome Miles Greenwood to our team as curator of legacies of slavery and empire. This two-year post has been 100% funded by Museums Galleries Scotland and is the culmination of a process that began several years ago to recognise and understand how our collection can be used to interpret how Glasgow’s history is entwined with the trans-Atlantic trade in enslaved African people and the development of the British Empire. He will work with different museum teams to carry out a programme of public consultation and engagement and to develop a masterplan for how these stories can be incorporated across our museums. He offers his own introduction here:
Under usual circumstances I would be popping into your places of work and introducing myself to you in person. It feels a bit weird to not be able to do that, but we are living through unusual times.
Despite that, I am excited to be working at Glasgow Museums with you. My early impression is that it’s going to be a great place to work, in no small part because of the people who work here.
To introduce myself to those of you who I haven’t managed to meet yet: I am originally from Manchester, I studied in Newcastle, and after a brief return to Manchester, I made my way further north to Glasgow to take a job with the Paisley Museum.
While most of my professional experience is in community engagement and consultation, I had always wanted to work with histories of colonialism and the histories of black people, so I was delighted when I managed to get this job.
For those of you who don’t know, my post is funded by Museums Galleries Scotland for two years, and the aim of it is to address the legacies of the British Empire and the trans-Atlantic trade in enslaved African people. Some of you have already been doing great work in this area and I look forward to working with you to build on that over the next two years.
I have managed to meet some of you already, albeit digitally, and I’m sure I’ll manage to meet many more of you over the coming weeks. What I really hope for, and I’m sure many of you want, is to be able to meet each other in person. Hopefully we’ll all be able to do that in the not too distant future. But in the meantime, stay safe and take care.
Museums Staff Update Thursday 24 September
Dear Museums & Collections Team
As the weather is changing so is the working day for many of us, with 3 buildings open more of us are spending time in the workplace. This will continue as Mitchell and GoMA reopen to staff then the public over the coming 2 months. Others continue to work from home and are in more of a new routine, while some of us are getting used to working from home without children to entertain /home school.
As this happens we are very aware that there are increasingly different daily experiences for us as a larger team and that the old ‘business as usual’ as we knew it, is not returning as quickly as we may have anticipated.
As the Scottish Government maintains its position that the default is to work from home where possible this is the position that Glasgow Life is taking too. This means that we will continue to carefully consider which staff groups will return over the coming months and on what basis, taking into account the reduced capacity at each building. As government advice changes so will our response; for example, managers continue to work together to plan the return of more staff to GMRC, just with no dates attached, so we are ready to put the plan into action.
This does not mean no one can go to a building but that we need to maintain an overview and agree the arrangement. If you feel you have some essential work that needs to be done from a workplace rather than home, either as a one off or with some regularity, please talk to your manager for it to be considered. If agreed then your manager will support you through the ‘Return to Workplace’ process including building briefing.
So, for the time-being, some of us will continue to work from home for the majority of the week. In recognition of this ‘Working from home’ guidance is in preparation and will be issued soon. As a management team we will be reviewing this and will support you wherever we can.
We are also very aware that many people are continuing to deliver a large amount of work with less than ideal resources and connectivity, and with innovation you have been finding ways to keep in touch, keep delivering and stay productive. Thank you for this ongoing effort, at every opportunity we raise the issues and try to make progress with them.
We know that many people are keen to return to buildings – to see the collection, have access to all their files, welcome community partners and volunteers and get back to some sense of how things used to be. We also know that this is going to take some time as new procedures will be needed to support a new ‘business as usual’.
In preparation for reopening, new building Risk Assessments (RA) have been drafted with a focus on certain activities. They do not cover all the activities that are carried out in a building, e.g. removing objects from display (for whatever reason) and a new RA is needed before this task can be carried out. Likewise we will have to consider what RAs are needed to support people who are not staff come into any of our buildings.
At the moment we are gathering information to ensure the drafted risk assessments cover as many foreseeable scenarios as possible. Until these, and any associated processes are in place, it is not possible, apart from in exceptional circumstances, to carry out this activity.
Our focus is on safely returning operations staff and visitors to reopening buildings, and then to reintroduce more of the full range of things we do in due course. We have not forgotten about them, but we need to take one step at a time.
It has been reported that more enquiries have been received through general mailboxes, it is good that the opening of a small number of buildings signals to the public that we are open for business again. However, we do recognise that responses to enquiries cannot happen in the same way as before and some messages will go out to this effect. It is another example of how some things may be perceived to be getting back to normal, they most certainly are not.
Thank you for your ongoing work, whether that is at home or in the workplace, and for the adjustments you continue to make to stay productive.
Duncan, Katherine and Jane
Museums Staff Update - Thursday 13 August
Dear Museums & Collections Team
It has been a couple of weeks since our last post and in that time much has happened alongside annual leave for many of us. We hope you and your loved ones are all keeping well.
In this post we would like to update you on some of what has been happening over the past few weeks in relation to buildings reopening.
During week commencing Monday 20th July GMRC reopened to some staff groups, initially Logistics and FoH teams. Once all the right plans and documents were in place and physical adjustments were made to the building (incl. one way system, hand sanitizer station, perpsex screen at reception) a walk-around took place with Trade Union Reps. On Thursday 23rd staff briefings started and since then a number of conservators have been working there on a daily basis.
By all accounts this has gone smoothly and staff who have been back in the building have told us how it has been for them.
How did you travel to GMRC and how did the journey feel?
Kat Cobain said “I take the train to GMRC from the Southside. The train is still very quiet, with all passengers that I could see wearing masks. It felt safe and was easy to adhere to social distancing.”
Caroline Currie said “The bus was quiet and seats were marked with what you could sit on and what you couldn’t. I wore my mask and the journey felt ok. It may feel different when the schools go back as this bus can get really busy so that makes me a little apprehensive.”
Julie Taylor said “I travelled by bike, it felt fine as I had started using my bike to commute before lockdown.”
Did you feel comfortable with your access into and through the building?
Kat said “Yes, with the front doors being automatic and new hand sanitising station just as you walk in, it is reassuring to both use and see others engaging with it. The one way system and large corridors also offer plenty of space for social distancing.”
Caroline said “I did – the GA’s were friendly and welcoming as ever and everything was clearly sign posted as to the one way system. The doors being open was good as you didn’t have to physically touch many high touch doors. Once through the doors I had no apprehension.”
Julie said “Yes, I felt comfortable with access into and through the building. The signage was clear, and the one way system easy to follow. Everyone was helpful and kept a safe distance from each other. I thought I might be anxious about returning, but it was ok. It was nice to see some colleagues in person again.”
How do you feel about being back in the workplace – what changes have there been for you?
Kat said “Having worked one or two days a week in the building throughout lockdown, it has been really lovely to welcome others back and catch up with colleagues I haven’t seen in a while! At the reception desk we are signing everyone in, and now sit behind Perspex screens, but are still able to have a chat as people pass by like before.”
Jonny Hanna said “Good, like I say, our teams are focused on reopening the museum buildings, but we’ve been helping out with distribution of hand sanitizer stations, the Perspex screens and the social distancing/one way system posters and stickers across other Glasgow Life venues. It’s nice to be back in work and active again – I can’t face another episode of Loose Women for at least a few weeks.”
How do you feel about returning to work in due course?
Caroline said “Apprehensive – but this is mostly about the travel to work and my use of public transport. Not everyone is wearing a mask and it can be very busy. Also, I sit in many meetings so I am wondering how this will work as the GMRC wifi will never cope with us all joining virtual meetings from our desks!”
Julie said “I feel ok about returning to work in due course having seen the health and safety measures that have been put in place.”
How was the building training /induction different to the online GOLD course? Did you find this useful?
Kat said “I found the induction very useful, as it was tailored to our building and how things were going to change directly within it. The GOLD course provided general awareness and advice, whereas the induction felt like a proper welcome back to work. It was reassuring having an in person brief from a familiar face, which contained specific information relevant to the GMRC.”
Maggie Dobbie said “I did the Gold course some weeks ago and from what I remember I didn’t think there was any information that was not already in the public domain. I thought the induction was more informative naturally a lot was aimed specifically at working in GMRC which was more important to us.”
Many thanks go to John Yates, the FOH team and Christine McLellan who have worked hard to make this a success so far. Over the next few weeks plans will be put in place for a programme of more staff returning to work at GMRC on an agreed, rota basis.
This week Neil Ballantyne, the FOH team at Kelvingrove with Logistics and Conservation teams have been hard at work to prepare the building to reopen this Monday, 17th August at 11am and yesterday afternoon this was announced on our social media channels.
Final building adjustments are being made and a multitude of new procedures are being worked through so the team are ready to welcome visitors and ensure it is a safe, yet relaxed and enjoyable experience.
For the first time all visitors will have to pre-book tickets, and tickets for the first two weeks will be available through the GL booking system https://tickets.glasgowconcerthalls.com?promo=627 from noon today, Thursday 13th August. The team have carefully worked out a safe visitor capacity and will work up to this over the coming weeks. Visiting Kelvingrove will be a special experience for those who do get tickets, because they may feel like they have the place to themselves.
But the experience will look and feel different, and for more details about this please refer to the FAQ, see link here https://www.glasgowlife.org.uk/media/6512/060820-museums-faq-additions-13th-august-final.pdf which is available on the website and outlines what visitors should expect.
Once Kelvingrove is open Stewart Thompson and the Riverside FOH team will be supported by Logistics and Conservation colleagues to prepare Riverside for reopening at the end of the month. In this same time period Venue Recovery Plans and associated documents for GoMA and the Mitchell are in development.
There is other good news: the long awaited works to install a Changing Places facility at Riverside and to upgrade the basement toilets in GOMA are programmed to be complete when the buildings reopen to visitors are the end of August and early October respectively.
Even as more of our buildings reopen to visitors, for many of us the request is to continue working from home. In advance of any expected return to a workplace you will be contacted by your manager and then the ‘Return to Workplace’ process will follow.
Many thanks go to all of you – whether for continuing to work at home or if you have been involved in preparing buildings to reopen – your efforts are much appreciated.
Best wishes and thanks,
Duncan, Jane, Katherine
Museums Staff Update - Friday 17th July
Museums Staff Update - Friday 3 July
Museums Staff Update - Monday 29 June
It’s been 13 weeks since government advice led us to close our museums. That was a difficult day for many of us and since then we’ve all had a lot to contend with. It’s encouraging our joint efforts to contain Covid-19 are working and we can begin to move forward. Now we are in phase 2 and restriction are easing I’m sure, like me, you and your family will be pleased to return to some of the simple things we’ve missed.
The Scottish Government’s decision to further ease the lockdown in July also lets us begin preparations to reopen buildings. Before I say a little more on our plans for the gradual, safe, reopening of Glasgow Museums I want to take a moment to say thank you.
Overnight we were catapulted into a surreal working environment. It’s been evident on so many occasions that this proved to be a great motivator. Colleagues across the team adapted quickly and creatively to ensure our audiences could continue to access the culture they craved, albeit in a different way. Some of you have been involved in building checks and checking on collections in our care while others have carried on collection related work from your homes. Thank you for your efforts, energy and enthusiasm.
I’d also like to recognise that I know it has been a challenge for some to keep in touch and connect in easily and this is part of the reason for setting up this page.
In due course, this page will provide an overview of the recovery planning that is underway and as agreement is reached it will outline the changes being introduced to enable us to return safely to workplaces and then allow people to return to our museums. The most important thing in all of this is the safety of every person who works with or visits Glasgow Museums.
In line with sector guidance, and working with Glasgow Life colleagues, we are drafting detailed recovery plans. These plans will consider all aspects necessary to ensure appropriate physical distancing and hygiene measures are in place and that our workplaces are as safe as possible. This includes making the appropriate training available to all and ensuring cleaning, maintenance and required risk assessments are completed. Following conversation with your line manager, this will see more of us return to more normal ways of working in the coming weeks and months, although things will not be the same as they were before.
Our expectation is that GMRC will open first to colleagues only, it will be a regular workplace for some staff groups and enable preparation for other buildings to reopen. After that museum openings will be phased and I appreciate everyone’s continued patience as we plan to welcome visitors again.
The timescales for this will continue to be led by the government’s guidance on Covid-19 and our own Museums’ and Glasgow Life planning processes.
We will use this page to keep you up to date with the latest service specific information, including any specific government guidance for museums, so you might want to bookmark this page for ease of reference.
If there is something you would like to know please talk to your manager and we will either put a response on this page or make sure the information gets to you and others in the team.
We have just released our Annual Review, it records another incredible year for Glasgow Museums with in excess of 4,085,000 recorded attendances in 2019/20. This underlines once again that Glaswegians love culture, our museums remain the must-see and most-visited attractions in our city.
This year certainly got off to a very different start, but I will forever be in awe at the contribution you have all made in welcoming visitors and then keeping in touch when our buildings have been closed. I look forward to working with you as we prepare to reopen our doors and welcome people again when it’s safe to do so.