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It seems clear that among the various sectors most affected by this tragic epidemic, culture has suffered a trauma that only time will be able to cure. The 93% of museums around the world are still closed, waiting to be able to access all the necessary credentials of this phase 2.

In recent months we tried to carefully follow what has happened: from the cuts on the staff at Moma, to initiatives in support of artists such as in the case of Christie's & Warhol Foundation; the development of your new virtual tour into the museums; new artistic projects;  messages of hope, from the "Poster for the People" campaign in the UK to the Italian "The colouring Book"; the evolution of art fairs around the world through testimonials such as Guillaume Piens (Art Paris) or Hans Ulrich Obrist; several works of art, born during the epidemic as in the case of Bansky-Timo Helgert-David Hockney.

But what are the global figures for this lockdown? To define an overall picture of the current museum situation all over the world is NEMO - Network of European Museum Organizations. From March 24 to  April 30, the organization involved about 1000 museums from 48 different countries (mainly European) with a survey. Compared to the percentage already mentioned of this 93% of closed museums, 33 companies in Italy responded to the Nemo survey, 17 from the United Kingdom, 30 from France, 75 from Germany and 17 from the United States. The NEMO's survey confirms the sad impression that we already have: since the start of the lockdown, museums have had to register a loss of revenues ranging from 75% to 80%, in proportion to the antivirus volume, with smaller museums that have had to account for losses of 10 thousand euros per week and larger ones that have reached hundreds of thousands of euros. More precisely, three museums out of five reported losses of around 20 thousand euros per week, due to the closure and the ban on moving. 

To most to suffer were museums based on private funding, so more susceptible to changes and contingencies. In fact, museums have been directly affected by the movement block, which has effectively stopped tourism. According to the European Commission, tourism activities will decrease from 50% to 70%. And considering that 40% of the entire European sector concerns cultural tourism, a dramatic period is expected at least until the end of 2020.

Compared to American museums, at least for the moment, most European museums have not had to lay off employees even though three out of ten museums have suspended contracts with freelancers and three out of five museums have stopped volunteering programs. 25% of museums said they will have to cut staff in the future. Smart working seems to have been widely used: almost half of the museums that responded to the NEMO survey said 80% of their staff are currently working from home.

For the emergency funds made available by governments, the panorama is very varied. Museums in 15 countries have said that measures to deal with the emergency are still under discussion, in 12 countries special funds have already been made available. This difference is due to several factors, ranging from the Covid-19 propagation modalities to the prevailing typology of museums. Aid to museums mainly includes coverage of wages or lost income. However, only a few museums, 15%, are considering finding alternative resources to cover losses. Of these, 7% hope to be able to make money through online programming.

Four out of five museums have increased their digital services to reach the public, often adapting employees to new tasks. Almost half of the museums that responded to the survey said they had promoted at least one new online business. 70% of museums have increased their presence on social networks. The most used platform is Facebook (602 museums) which detaches a lot from Instagram (183 museums). Then follow Youtube, Twitter and even Linkedin. Two out of five museums have experienced an increase in online visits, ranging from 10% to 150%. Products such as podcasts and direct online or virtual tours of the collections have increased. But this is only the beginning. Find more information on the official NEMO_COVID19_Report.
 

Cover image: Photo by Virginia Breen/THE CITY

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