Museums around the world have been hard-hit during the pandemic with closures, limited travel and restrictions on how many can visit, and museum directors are starting to fear that many may not survive.
In the past few days alone, museum associations in the U.S. and the Netherlands have issued dire warnings indicating that as many as a third of museums might be forced to close permanently if they do not get fresh support.
A report from the American Alliance of Museums indicated that a third of the 760 museums surveyed were not confident about surviving the next sixteen months. As well, 87% of directors in the survey said they have a year or less of operating funds left, and more than half of that group say they are within six months of running dry. Over 40% have furloughed staff, and about the same number expect to have permanently reduced staffs.
In the Netherlands, the Museums Association says a quarter of its members are at risk, especially the small and regional museums. A €300 million government grant to the cultural sector was not enough, they say, especially as only 'important' institutions were eligible. One museum, the Handbag Museum, has already gone under, with 32 jobs lost and a search on for a suitable new home for its collection.
A new open letter to the Dutch government, signed by directors of some of those 'important' museums is calling for more support for the smaller and less-known institutions, saying that without more support the Dutch cultural sector 'would turn into a wasteland.'