Top museums lose 78% of visitors to Covid

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England’s four biggest museums have suffered an average 78% drop in visitor numbers because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Research by The Art Newspaper’s visitors figures survey shows a catastrophic cut in footfall for Tate, the British Museum, the National Gallery and the V&A, with the BM showing a fall from 372,000 a month to 32,000, or 91%.

The income loss has been equally. Calamitous, with Tate and its four branches showing its  financial year about to end £56m short on the year before, a drip of 60%. The less complex National Gallery is looking at a £14m loss in earning from catering and venue hire over the year.

With foreign tourism figures having ot be rebuilt again Tim Reeve, deputy director of the V&A, estimated that it could be five years before the pre-Covid highs could be reached again.

It has meant drastic cuts and in the V&A’s case a major restructuring and a probable 20% reduction in curatorial staff. The Museums Association has already reported as loss of more than 4,000 jobs with Tate saving £4.8m with 295 redundancies. 

Regional museums and galleries are also suffering, with cuts being taken to education and exhibition teams, and exhibition budgets being slashed.

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