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National Video Game Museum re-opens this week after coronavirus left future uncertain

With some help from crowdfunding campaign.

Sheffield's National Video Game Museum is set to re-open this weekend, after a successful crowdfunding drive helped raise enough money to see it through its prolonged closure during the coronavirus pandemic.

The National Video Game Museum, which is run by charity BGI and describes itself as "the UK's only museum dedicated to video game culture and education", opened at its Sheffield location in 2018. It features curated collections of games and ephemera highlighting the medium's history, it holds workshops, and it has even hosts events from noted industry contributors, such as legendary Nintendo engineer Masayuki Uemura.

The museum's engaging blend of education and entertainment managed to attract 40,000 visitors in 2019, but unfortunately its prolonged closure earlier this year, due to the coronavirus pandemic, put it in dire financial straits which risked closing its doors permanently. "We have no safety net of funding to ensure our new charity outlasts a prolonged shutdown," it said at the time, "[and] we've been ruled out of most government and all arts emergency funds."

As a result, the museum launched a Just Giving campaign in an attempt to raise the £80,000 it needed to stay open. Ultimately, over 800 supporters, and companies including the likes of Rockstar and Jagex, banded together to raise a total of £201,151. Additionally, the museum has since received £40,000 as part of Art Fund's crisis-response funding programme.

The upshot is that the National Video Game Museum will finally re-open its doors to the public this Saturday, 22nd August. Expectedly, the ongoing coronavirus pandemic means it has been forced to make some operational changes that will affect visitors. Face masks are mandatory, for instance, pre-booking is now essential, and the museum notes it has timed visit slots with extremely limited availability. Full details can be found on its website.

"This has been an extraordinarily difficult time for our new charity," BGI CEO Rick Gibson said in a statement (thanks VGC), "We have been buoyed by the support from the public and games companies but we are a long way from out of the woods. We really don't know how our community will react or whether they will return. We are delighted to be able to reopen in this limited way to understand how we can operate in this radically different environment."

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