Tours facilitated by telepresence robots, developed by tech firm Double Robotics, are being offered by the Hastings Contemporary to help sector-wide efforts in “overcoming barriers of isolation”. The gallery says this new offering will help to support families, children and older visitors in exploring the site from home.

The robot looks on at Graham Sutherland's Thorn Head, 1947, oil on canvas © Estate of the Artist. Artwork courtesy Daniel Katz Gallery

Due to the high volume of interest since announcing the tours, Hastings Contemporary will initially be limiting its offering to four 30-minute tours a week. These sessions, led by director Liz Gilmore and trustee Nick Maclean, will be reserved for priority booking by those most vulnerable and at risk due to isolation.

“We have been overwhelmed and delighted at the interest in our Robot Tours,” a statement from the gallery read. “We are looking at ways to make these available to all in the near future.”

The journey through the gallery reaches Edward Burra's War in the Sun, 1938, watercolour on paper © Estate of the Artist, c/o Lefevre Fine Art Ltd., London. Artwork courtesy Daniel Katz Gallery

In addition to providing access to the arts during lockdown, Hastings Contemporary’s Robot Tours will seek to “communicate more widely the lived experiences of those with disabilities in a creative and collaborative manner” and contribute to associated scientific research.

“Not only will we be sharing images, video content, interviews and information from our past, current and future exhibitions, but we’ll also be expanding the very limits of what it means to be an art gallery in 2020,” notes Liz Gilmore.

The gallery is working to ensure some recorded tours are made freely available in the near future.

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