Over 10,000 Museums Across the World Won’t Open Due to the Global Health Crisis

Mikel Amigot, IBL News | New York

The COVID-19 pandemic has hit museums hard, and over 10,000 may never reopen.

On May 18, International Museum Day, new studies conducted by UNESCO and the International Council of Museums (ICOM) found that 13% of the more than 85,000 museums across the globe that have closed due to the virus will stay shut down.

As a result of the closures, the losses have skyrocketed. In the United States alone, art institutions are losing an estimated $33 million a day, according to the American Alliance of Museums.

In addition, the global health crisis has exposed the precarious position of cultural workers, with thousands of employees laid off or furloughed.

“The museum field cannot survive on its own without the support of the public and private sectors,” said Suay Aksoy, President at ICOM. “It is imperative to raise emergency relief funds and to put in place policies to protect professionals and self-employed workers on precarious contracts.”

Audrey Azoulay, General Manager at UNESCO, promised to aid museums since “they play a fundamental role in the resilience of societies.”

That assistance may materialize on the ResiliArt movement, launched by UNESCO in April.

The UN agency will host a series of debates, panels, and other events to generate discussion about how art and cultural institutions, organizations, and workers will need to adapt in order to survive.

According to UNESCO, social protection of museum staff, digitization and inventorying of collections, and online content development, are among the top priorities that need to be addressed – all of which require financial resources.

UNESCO also pointed out that since 2012, the global number of museums has increased by almost 60%, demonstrating how important they have become in national cultural policies over the last decade.

Museums play a fundamental role in education, culture, and in supporting the local and regional creative economy, according to UNESCO.