by Barry Hughes, Marketing and Communications Manager

In response to the coronavirus pandemic, the Museum along with Freemasons’ Hall closed its doors to the public in mid-March.

It was a sad day to close, shortly after the start of the year, when so many plans had yet to be realised. The decision was not taken lightly, and the whole team knew the implications of what the impending nationwide lockdown would mean. Still, we pulled together, hopeful that we would cross the threshold of 60 Great Queen Street in a few months’ time.

While in lockdown, the Museum team worked hard on the readjustment. We were all now working from home and access to the collection was never more limited. It’s quite an unusual situation, to be a public-facing museum while at the same time being cut off from the collection. Obviously some services were postponed, like family history searches, tours and archival enquiries.

So, rather than pause everything, we looked into alternative ways in which we could operate.

One example that came to fruition was our new ‘Online Talks’ series. Our resident experts - Curator Mark, Archivist Susan, Librarian Martin and Assistant Archivist Louise, all pooled their knowledge to bring out subjects for discussion on Monday evenings. Everyone seemed to be scheduling Zoom meetings during lockdown, so we thought it may be a good idea to use the Zoom platform to present our experts’ talks.

With our latest team member on board, Interpretation Manager Jane introduced each talk. The first talk on Bro Loveless Overton was so successful we had to do it twice! The next six talks were just as popular, and we recorded each one.

We now have a new YouTube channel to host each recording for future access at,


Another great example is our collecting initiative ‘Our COVID-19 Story’. Since the beginning of the lockdown there were questions raised about similar pandemics in the past. We searched but couldn’t find anything of note in our archives. We recognised there was an opportunity now to document how freemasons across the UK and indeed the world were responding to the crisis today. So, when the next generation asks those same questions, there is a credible source to point to.

Visit the Support section of our website to hear how we are collecting physical and digital items relating to freemasonry’s experience of coronavirus at:


Finally, here we are today and the Museum is once again open to the public; albeit with social distancing measures in place. We reopened the North Gallery so visitors can enjoy the ‘Three centuries of English Freemasonry’ exhibition along with the ‘Familiar Faces’ exhibition in the corridors. The South Gallery is closed for restoration work. If you would like to visit the Museum, please book a free, timed entry ticket directly from the website. The Library and Archives are open Wednesday to Saturday for research visits only. If you wish to use the Library and Archives for research, please telephone or email the Museum as you won’t need to book a ticket. Unfortunately we are unable to provide tours for a while. It’s always best to subscribe to our newsletter so you can stay updated.

 To say the past year has been hard for everyone is an understatement, but there is light at the end of the tunnel. We’re all taking some socially distanced steps back to normality, and at Museum of Freemasonry we are looking to the future with a new major exhibition planned for April 2021. Let’s all stay safe, look after each other and enjoy that future together.

This article is part of the Arena Magazine, Issue 42 October 2020 edition.
Arena Magazine is the official magazine of the London Freemasons - Metropolitan Grand Lodge and Metropolitan Grand Chapter of London.

Read more articles in the Arena Issue 42.