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UK's National History Museum gets ready to reopen

London, England: London's Natural History Museum is dusting off the blue whale that soars above its central hall, along with its dinosaur skeletons and thousands of other exhibits in preparation for re-opening next month after COVID-19 forced its closure in March.

Museum Director Michael Dixon said staff had been working for weeks to make the museum, which is one of London's most popular attractions, safe for the limited number of visitors it can accommodate with social distancing measures in place. "We want to the museum to look at its fabulous best - this great cathedral to nature," he told Reuters on Monday, July 27.

"As you can see behind me, Hope the whale is getting her annual dusting, we have brought that forward this year, and she will look her magnificent best on the 5th of August when we reopen to the public." The museum, which has been based in South Kensington since 1881, closed its doors on March 17, six days before Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson ordered a nationwide lockdown to stem the spread of the coronavirus.
Though the museum receives government support, which has been bolstered during the crisis, a lack of income from visitors has hit the museum hard, said Dixon. Even once reopened only 20 percent of the normal number of visitors would be admitted, he added.

While unfortunate for the museum, those lucky enough to get a visiting slot will be in for a "fantastic VIP experience," said Dixon. "They will be able to see things without so many people around them, and I think that will be a wonderful experience for many, many people," he said.

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