With capacity drastically reduced visitors have a unique chance to enjoy the art without the crowds
Plus London galleries to visit this bank holiday weekend
On 10 July at 10.55am there were 20 people in the queue for the National Gallery, which had just reopened after 111 days of Covid-related closure. The Sainsbury Wing entrance bristled with the now-familiar precautions – extended barriers, hand sanitiser, extra staff – and we passed through to a movingly warm welcome.
Somewhat to my surprise, I’d been first in the queue. It was my first day back in central London after four months in lockdown, and I’d arrived 10 minutes early, expecting a scrum of art fans. All I wanted to see – and I really wanted to see it – was the Wilton Diptych, the exquisite personal altar once owned by the boy king Richard II.