To mark International Museum Day, which took place on May 18, UNESCO and the International Council of Museums (ICOM) released the findings of two studies assessing the coronavirus pandemic’s impact on art institutions around the world. Their findings suggest a dark future that, with some museums forced to close because of the ongoing health crisis.
UNESCO’s study reveals that 90 percent of museums worldwide—a figure that represents over 85,000 institutions—shuttered temporarily as a result of the pandemic. For some, that closure will likely be permanent: around 13 percent of art institutions may close permanently after major financial losses, the report claims. UNESCO also reports that only 5 percent of museums in Africa and Small Island Developing States were able to offer online content amid the pandemic.
“Museums play a fundamental role in the resilience of societies. We must help them cope with this crisis and keep them in touch with their audiences,” UNESCO director-general Audrey Azoulay said in a statement. “
Research conducted by ICOM focused on the ways in which museum professions have been affected by the pandemic and how a lack of ticket sales have decreased museums’ incomes.
“We are fully aware of and confident in the tenacity of museum professionals to meet the challenges posed by the Covid-19 pandemic,” ICOM president Suay Aksoy said in a statement. “However, the museum field cannot survive on its own without the support of the public and private sectors. It is imperative to raise emergency relief funds and to put in place policies to protect professionals and self-employed workers on precarious contracts.”
These are not the only recent surveys to highlight the pandemic’s consequences for the art world. Last month, findings from the initiative Artist Relief—a coalition of seven arts grant makers in the United States—showed that 60 percent of artists in the U.S. became unemployed because of the crisis. An ADAA survey also revealed that U.S. galleries are facing massive financial losses because of the pandemic, and a SMU DataArts and TRG Arts report revealed that nonprofit organizations are expecting to lose billions of dollars over the next year.