Museum Survey Details Impact of Closures and Results of Digital Initiatives

  • April 07, 2020 15:55

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Lot and His Daughters, about 1622, Orazio Gentileschi. Recreation on Twitter by Qie Zhang, Erik Carlsson, and their daughters. Part of the Getty's challenge on social media, #betweenartandquarantine and #tussenkunstenquarataine.
J. Paul Getty Museum / Twitter

A new survey released by the Network of European Museum Organizations (NEMO) looks at data from museums in Europe and worldwide detailing current impacts of the coronavirus crisis.

With most museums now closed, the survey aims to assess issues being faced and paths forward for arts institutions.

Over 650 museums from 41 countries have so far responded to the survey, according to NEMO, and the survey is still open. A first analysis of results includes data on weekly budget losses, strategies to follow and an overview of how museums are increasing their digital presence.

Among the results posted so far, on the financial side, 70 percent of museums are losing more than €1,000 every week, with private museums being hardest hit. Larger institutions, such as the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam, report that they are losing hundreds of thousands of Euros per week. Freelance workers have been hardest hit in the workplace, with few contracts renewed.

Sixty percent of museums in the survey have increased their digital presence, and 40 percent report an increase in online traffic, with some results showing a 500 percent increase.

The survey serves to inform the push to save cultural institutions during the ongoing crisis. In a statement from Network of European Museum Organizations: “We urge governments to invest in Europe’s cultural heritage in the future, to support what binds us together, while so many other things drive us apart."

Germany has already earmarked $54 billion for its cutural industry, including artists and freelancers.

In the U.S., leaders from cultural associations wrote to Senate and House leaders on March 18 asking for at least $4 billion in aid in the third phase of stimulus packages. The letter stated that U.S. museums are "losing at least $33 million a day due to closures as a result of COVID-19 and will be in desperate need of significant federal support to maintain jobs, secure our cultural heritage, help to rebuild our nation’s tourism industry — and simply to survive the months to come."

Less than 5% of the $4 billion asked of Congress was given in the historic $2 trillion aid package.

“We estimate as many as 30 percent of museums, mostly in small and rural communities, will not re-open without significant and immediate emergency financial assistance,” wrote the American Alliance of Museums (AAM) in the letter. 

U.S. museums employ over 726,000 individuals, according to AAM.

The International Council of Museums will host an April 10 webinar on COVID-19 impact, innovations and planning for post-crisis strategies.

Read more at NEMO survey

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