The pandemic has been a difficult time for all. As our staff and volunteers cannot work from home, furlough was a godsend, but caused its own specific difficulties, especially with a build-up of postal enquires. However, just like everyone else, we at the Polish Institute and Sikorski Museum (PISM) have tried our best to keep going. During the most difficult times, when the building was completely closed, trustees visited once a week to check the safety and security of the building and to collect urgent post. A health and safety risk assessment was carried out and implemented.
Things became easier with the ending of furlough, which enabled the return of our staff and some of our volunteers. The time when we remained closed to the public but staff and volunteers could return was very productive.
Volunteers, staff and trustees have put a lot of effort into producing the new website, which is nearly ready. Equally, other volunteers have been updating some of the museum exhibits on show, with the addition of some new uniforms and paintings. Also some of the descriptive labels have been rewritten.
The staff had a lot of catching up to do and they worked tirelessly to enable us to reopen, to a limited capacity, in October. For health and safety reasons we have reduced the number of researchers who can use the reading room at any one time to four and by strict appointment only. Museum footfall is also much reduced and we have installed hand sanitizer stations throughout the building, arranged for more thorough cleaning and have insisted that everyone wears masks.