Following the announcement from the Government that museums and libraries may reopen from early July, we can now announce our plans for phased reopening.

We have worked hard to keep the Institution community connected during lockdown but nothing can compare to being in the building itself, taking in the historic atmosphere and seeing friends.   We are eager to see you, but we must remain cautious in our approach.

We have implemented our plan with all available advice for our sector and have been informed by our recent survey data from members and volunteers.   If you have yet to complete one, please do so here:

https://devonandexeterinstitution.org/membership/post-lockdown-membership-survey/

During our initial reopening phase, we will open for some ‘recharge days’ on Tuesday and Friday mornings only from 9.30am-12.30pm and the first of these will be Tuesday 14 July.    These times will be available to members, no guests will be permitted on site.   At present this is on a drop-in basis and on the understanding that we will need to restrict numbers to maintain social distancing throughout the building and in the garden.

You will be greeted by a member of staff at a temporary, screened reception desk in the front hallway.   You will be signed in by a member of staff and your details noted for Track and Trace.   You will be required to wash your hands or use the hand sanitiser provided immediately on arrival.   All staff will be wearing visors and we ask members to wear a face covering inside if they feel able to do so.

You will be welcome to spend up to an hour in the Outer Library, or longer in the garden or upper Reading Room at your own risk.   A new display of prints and paintings can be viewed in the front hallway and stairwell and books will be displayed in the Outer Library, including a selection of ‘Books in Isolation’ and this year’s short-listed books for our new Rescue a Book scheme.

The garden and side courtyard will be accessible via the ‘secret door’ and chairs and tables placed outside for your use.   We ask members to use common sense when moving through the building and there will be protocols in place for the use of the lavatories.  We are hygiene cleaning following every recharge day and will be spot-cleaning touch points throughout the morning.

We will continue to provide a remote research service for members but during this first phase and due to hygiene requirements, members will not be able directly to access research collections or browse or borrow books.   We will not have newspapers and periodicals available and the Courtenay Room and Inner Library will be closed.   Do email the Library if you have a research enquiry [email protected] or leave a message with any member of staff.  Our procedures will be reviewed at the end of August.

Members are welcome to bring their own drinks and snacks to take into the garden.

At the present time and due to social distancing guidelines, we are not planning to resume large gatherings, such as our lecture series, programmed events or members’ clubs.  Online alternatives will be available via our website for the foreseeable future.  We will update you when the situation changes.

The Institution is working closely with Exeter City Council to support the opening-up of Exeter to people who live within an hour’s drive of the City.   We have requested bike racks adjacent to the Institution to support those members who would wish to avoid public transport and would prefer to cycle.  Please see the Visit Exeter website for the latest information on visiting the City: https://www.visitexeter.com/inspire-me/know-before-you-go

We hope to offer exterior tours of the building, weekly from Wednesday 5th August, and some bookable wellbeing sessions in our garden from 8th August; details to follow.   This is part of the Heritage Outside programme and will help us to recover, both financially and mentally, from a most extraordinary year.

We know that these measures will feel alien at first, but we will do our best to create the same warm welcome and peaceful atmosphere that our members value.

We look forward to seeing you.

The DEI staff team