The Museums Association (MA) has said that it is becoming increasingly apparent that reopening many museums will prove to be a difficult and risky process, with policymakers, funders and directors having to take a range of operational and financial considerations into account.
Every museum in the UK is currently closed, which is creating a massive deficit in budgets, no matter the type of museum. Those that raise the biggest proportion of their income from earned income such as shops, ticket sales and cafes have been hit the hardest, although all establishments have been hit to a certain extent.
Spring and summer are peak times for museums and is when they generate the majority of their income, bringing in people from both the UK and overseas. If lockdown goes on for many months, the concern is that a lot of museums will simply not survive.
But the MA believes that it is possible for museums to reopen and begin trading again with proper consideration for public health.
In order to facilitate reopening of museums around the country, support is required that includes emergency public support for an extended period after lockdown is lifted.
In addition, governments should ensure that clear and unambiguous messages are provided to the public on the safety of visiting and museums should have a prominent part to play in campaigns to encourage people to return to cultural venues.
“We believe that it is possible for many museums to reopen to the public in the first phases of lifting the current lockdown. Many museums are well-placed to introduce social distancing measures similar to those currently used in supermarkets, such as maintaining 2m distance between visitors, timed entry, and eliminating cash payments.
“However, such measures will come at a considerable financial cost, and some museums might not be able to justify the cost of reopening under such conditions,” it was observed.
Some museums in other parts of Europe, such as Germany and Italy, are now starting to move forward with plans to reopen, as cases of coronavirus and death tolls begin to fall.
A general ease of lockdown measures will start in Italy from May 18th, with prime minister Giuseppe Conte confirming that this will include libraries, museums and other cultural venues.
And in Berlin, the Hamburger Bahnhof, the Altes Museum and Bode Museum were all scheduled to reopen on May 4th, with mayor of the city Michael Muller stressing how important it will be to meet strict guidelines in order for this to happen.
Safety guidelines include measures like plexiglass shields for ticket collection, limiting visitors to one person per every 160 sq/ft, set time slots for vulnerable visitors and the wearing of masks.
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