A survey from the American Alliance of Museums (AAM) released on July 23 points to a not-insignificant number of respondents (16%) replying that their institutions risk permanent closure within the next two years, barring financial relief.
The warning from the AAM suggests that one out of every three museums may shutter forever as funding sources and financial reserves evaporate. There is hope, however, with a new relief bill being considered in the U.S. Congress this week. Barring a relief bill or private donor assistance, however, a significant number of museum directors fear the worst.
The survey, conducted in the month of June, included more than 750 museum directors and focused on the economic harm to museums due to the COVID-19 closures, some of which we have written about here and here. Recent spikes in infection numbers threaten to exacerbate the situation for the cross-section of museum directors from institutes of various sizes, disciplines and geographic locations.
“On average, museums receive less than 25% of their total funding from government sources,” states Laura Lott, President & CEO of AAM. “Money from public and private sources is crucial to saving the museum field. Museum revenue disappeared overnight when the pandemic closed all cultural institutions, and sadly, many will never recover.” She explains: “Even with a partial reopening in the coming months, costs will outweigh revenue and there is no financial safety net for many museums. The distress museums are facing will not happen in isolation. The permanent closure of 12,000 museums will be devastating for communities, economies, education systems, and our cultural history.”
Of the museums that are open or plan to reopen, the report states that 40% plan to do so with reduced staff, and with added expenses going toward doing so safely.
New Hampshire’s Dynamic Benchmarking conducted the survey at no charge to museums. “This data is critical as the Alliance continues to advocate for the resources museums require to recover from the current financial crisis,“ Lott continues. Alliance advocates secured hundreds of millions of dollars for museums, and the Federal Paycheck Protection Program has served as a lifeline for many museums. “However, with the funding running out, furloughs and layoffs will grow without additional financial support from the government or donors.”
For more information, please go here.
The American Alliance of Museums has been bringing museums together since 1906, helping to develop standards and best practices, gathering and sharing knowledge, and providing advocacy on issues of concern to the entire museum community. Representing more than 35,000 individual museum professionals and volunteers, institutions, and corporate partners serving the museum field, the Alliance stands for the broad scope of the museum community.