Launch of UNESCO Report on museums around the world in the face of COVID-19

UNESCO launched a new Report on Museums Around the World in the Face of COVID-19, fruit of an international survey targeting museums, culture professionals and Member States.

This Report, presenting a first evaluation of the impact of COVID-19 across the museum sector, sheds new light on the key trends of the world’s museums, their reaction in the face of the crisis, their capacity for resilience, and the challenges of accessing culture.

The study reveals that the number of museums is estimated at around 95,000 in 2020, which represents a 60% increase compared to 2012. They are, however, very unevenly distributed across the globe. Museums have been particularly affected by the pandemic, as 90% of them closed their doors during the crisis and, according to the International Council of Museums (ICOM), more than 10% may never reopen. Facing the crisis, museums acted quickly to develop their presence on the Internet. However the digital divide is more evident than ever: only 5% of museums in Africa and the Small Island Developing States (SIDS) were able to propose online content.

“This report not only provides a better understanding of the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on museum institutions and the challenges they will face following the health crisis, but also explores the ways to support museums in the aftermath of the crisis,” declared Audrey Azoulay, Director-General of UNESCO. “There is an urgent need to strengthen policies that support this sector, which plays an essential role in our societies for the dissemination of culture, education, social cohesion and support to the creative economy.”

With a view to gather information on how the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak affects the culture sector, the International Council of Museums (ICOM) launched a global survey to analyze the impact of the quarantine measures. The ICOM report provides information on the situation of museums and their staff, the predicted economic impact, digitization and communication, museum security and the conservation of collections, and the situation of independent museum professionals.

This common reflection and inter-institutional cooperation provides updated data on museums and museum institutions, that are all the more important in this period of global challenge brought about by COVID-19.

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