60% of museums ‘may not survive pandemic’

Almost two-thirds of museums and galleries fear they may not survive the pandemic crisis, according to a new Art Fund survey.

It finds that visitor figures for the month of October, before the second lockdown, was just 25% of the total for October 2019, with income severely down for 77% of institutions, and the survey found that 61% of museum employees were worried about losing their jobs. .

“Over the last six months it’s been hugely inspiring to see innovative ideas from museums to adapt and evolve, but heart-breaking that we cannot support them all” said Jenny Waldman, director of Art Fund which has today launched a public appeal for funding to help. “This terrible pandemic, which separates us from our loved ones but has brought us closer in support of our local communities, has taken museums to a make-or-break point.

“Single-handedly, we cannot solve this crisis, but together, we can make a huge impact. We are urging everyone who loves and uses museums to come together now, to help so many more museums thrive.”  

Despite the catastrophic effects of lockdown, only 55% of museums have so far received emergency funding, and half of those who have had help have said they would have gone under without it. In the last six months the charity has had applications for funding help worth almost £17m from 451 organisations for its £2.25m emergency fund, which is now exhausted. So far 44 organisations have  received Art Fund help, including the Roald Dahl Museum in Great Missenden, the Postal Museum in London, Lakeland Arts in Cumbria, the Glasgow Museum of Modern Art and Salford Museum and Art Gallery.

Art Fund has launched an appeal for public donations, Together for Museums, to raise £1m to help museums adapt for contemporary challenges, offering rewards made by leading artists including Anish Kapoor, Lubaina Himid (whose The Blanket of Reasonable Luxury is shown here), Michael Landy and Melanie Monchot.

National Museum Directors’ Council chair Sir Ian Blatchford, who is also director of the Science Museum, said. “Millions of people turned to museums to find inspiration and education while their physical doors were closed. Sadly, reopening alone is not a smooth path back to sustainability as museums face tough challenges to adapt what they can offer to visitors in person or online. These figures show the stark financial reality. This excellent campaign asks what we can give back to ensure museums survive for their communities”.

You can donate here: www.artfund.org/together

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