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July 5, 2021

Museums, museum professionals and Covid-19: the third ICOM report is online

One year and a half into the Covid-19 pandemic, the museum sector is still trying to grasp its long-term consequences, while facing the challenges of reopening with social distancing restrictions in place.

Our first report, published just over a year ago, presented a dire situation for museums and museum professionals around the world. With almost 95% of institutions forced to close in order to safeguard the wellbeing of staff and visitors, the sector was facing severe economic, social and cultural repercussions.

Our second global survey, conducted in early autumn 2020, presented a much more varied situation for museums, with stark regional differences in terms of opening rates and economic impact. One of the most interesting figures, which has often been the focus of discussions about the sector and Covid-19, has been the massive shift to digital activities. This trend, which increased sharply between the first two surveys, raised questions about the maturity and sustainability of these practices in the future.

With the aim of analysing the evolution of this and other key developments in the museum sector, we have therefore launched a third survey, one year after the publication of the first one. This third ICOM global survey, which was open from 15 April to 29 May 2021, investigated a scenario which is certainly still a crisis, but which is also increasingly being described as ‘the new normal’.

As with the second survey, we have kept most of the sections unchanged, allowing us to assess the major trends of the crisis brought about by the pandemic and its perception by museum professionals. Other questions considered possible future scenarios and how museums are preparing for a new start.

This being the third ICOM report, we decided to present the trends of responses over time, rather than focusing on regional comparisons, to show how the situation has evolved over these past 18 months. For this reason, the figures represent aggregated results, and should be interpreted with caution, bearing in mind the profound differences among museums around the world.

Read the full report