While NEMO’s findings demonstrate substantial financial ramifications being felt by museums the world over, it also strikes a positive tone by highlighting some operational opportunities offered up by the crisis.
The fiscal bite is yet to be felt by some museums, but NEMO has found that larger museums and attractions in tourist-rich areas have reported a loss of income between 75% and 80% – with weekly deficits in the hundreds of thousands.
The dust will have to settle before economic pain is truly understood, but the pivotal role museums and the wider cultural sector have played in supporting an isolated public is highlighted as a significant positive in the research.
“Museums have been quick and pro-active in their response to the pandemic. They have shifted their focus to addressing needs within their communities in this situation,” NEMO states.
“From donating masks and gloves to hospitals, to collecting objects and stories of people to preserve and learn from this moment, increasing digital services, sharing collections, offering digital tools, and increasing digital services to engage and comfort people staying at home.”
While asserting “there is no fast track back to normal”, NEMO encourages the sector to avoid targeting previous normality as the post-pandemic goal. Departing traditional working methods and preparing stronger emergency planning are among the recommendations, with fully embracing digital the report’s key battle cry.
NEMO states that far from being “a distant promise or a source of untapped potential”, digital is essential for museums’ success in future – just as has been the case through lockdown. To deliver this, NEMO asks stakeholders to tailor future budgets and strategies to allow for investments in digital offers, services and infrastructures.
“We must learn from this crisis in order to effectively respond, mitigate, adapt and integrate,” the findings state. “We urge governments to invest in Europe’s cultural heritage in the future, to support what binds us together, while so many other things drive us apart. Museums might not change the world, but museums at their best can show what humanity can do at its best.”