As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to wreak havoc globally, museums have not been spared, the UN cultural agency said revealing that nearly 90 percent of the treasured cultural institutions have had to close their doors, while almost 13 percent are under serious threat of never reopening.
In assessing the impact of the coronavirus on museums, two studies conducted by the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and the International Council of Museums (ICOM), confirmed that more than 85,000 institutions have shut.
“Museums play a fundamental role in the resilience of societies”, UNESCO Director-General Audrey Azoulay explained. “We must help them cope with this crisis and keep them in touch with their audiences”.
The analyses also explored how the sector was adapting to the pandemic and ways in which it could offer support once the pandemic ends.
To affirm the resilience of art, UNESCO launched the ResiliArt movement last month, which, among other things, conducts virtual high-level exchanges between international professionals and draws support for the cultural world during the crisis.
Within this framework, UNESCO launched in mid-May a series of debates devoted to museums.
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 number of museums globally has increased by almost 60 percent, demonstrating how important they have become in national cultural policies over the past decade.
The study also revealed wide regional disparities, with Africa and Small Island Developing States (SIDS), accounting for only 1.5 percent of the total number of museums worldwide. Furthermore, only five percent of museums in Africa and SIDS were able to offer online content to their audiences.