Apollo Magazine

Six heritage hotspots dishing out Covid vaccines

It’s nigh-on impossible to get a decent dose of culture right now – unless you’re signed up for a jab at a museum

Gothic revival? The vaccine queue at Salisbury Cathedral

Gothic revival? The vaccine queue at Salisbury Cathedral Photo: Justin Tallis/AFP via Getty Images

Gah! Around the world, museums are off limits, theatres are closed and cinemas are deserted. Unless Netflix is enough for you, it’s nigh-on impossible to get a decent dose of culture.

But perhaps that’s starting to change. A handful of museums and heritage hotspots have been transformed into Covid vaccination centres – and it sounds like others will follow their lead. If you want cogitation with your vaccination, you’d better head for one of these venues. So long as you live locally, that is.

Salisbury Cathedral

As if the visual attractions of this early-gothic masterpiece – from the towering spire to the display of the earliest working clock in Europe – weren’t enough, jab punters at Salisbury Cathedral have been treated to performances of organ music by Bach, Handel and Pachelbel.

Photo: Finnbarr Webster/Getty Images

Castello di Rivoli, Turin

‘Art has always helped and healed,’ says Carolyn Christov-Bakargiev, director of the contemporary art museum on the outskirts of Turin. The venue will be the first museum in Italy to be used as a vaccination centre – and more could follow. The civic museums of Florence are already rolling up their sleeves.

A mural by Claudia Comte, which visitors are invited to view during the vaccination process

Thackray Museum of Medicine, Leeds

It’s fitting that this museum charting the history of medicine was one of the first to offer itself up as a vaccination centre back in December. The museum, named after a pharmacist and manufacturer of surgical instruments from Leeds, is also handily located a stone’s throw from St James’s University Hospital…

Photo: Wikimedia Commons (public domain)

Science Museum, London

Throughout the pandemic the Science Museum has kept a close watch on new developments, recently acquiring the vial that contained the first dose of the Covid-19 vaccine administered outside of a medical trial. Will its curators be waiting to pounce on any more discarded apparatus when vaccination gets going there in February?

Professor Stephen Powis, National Medical Director of NHS England and Natasha McEnroe, Keeper of Medicine at the Science Museum, with the first vial of the Covid-19 vaccine. Photo: © Science Museum Group

Stefano Boeri’s mobile vaccination pavilions

For those craving some contemporary design, Milanese architect Stefano Boeri has dreamt up these pop-up pavilions which will be used across Italy: the walls are crafted from recyclable textiles and the main motif is a bright pink primrose.

Digital rendering courtesy Stefano Boeri Architetti

Disneyland, CA

For acolytes of postmodernism, there’s nowhere more culturally significant than Disneyland. Will a spoonful of sugar help the medicine go down in Mickey’s Toontown? So long as the vaccinations aren’t lined up in Fantasyland…

Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images

As the vaccination roll-outs continue, more venues are sure to be needed. Our suggestion? Dr Jenner’s House in Berkeley – once home to the man who invented the smallpox vaccine in 1749, and now the site of a museum celebrating his legacy.

© Philip Halling (used under Creative Commons licence [CC BY-SA 2.0])

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