12 thousand US museums are under threat of closure

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Visitors to the Metropolitan Museum in March 2020

According to a recent poll conducted by the American Alliance of Museums (AAM) in conjunction with Dynamic Benchmarking, about a third of US museums may close by the end of this year due to the consequences of the crisis unfolding in the country and financial problems.

According to the estimates of the majority of museum directors interviewed, the PPP (Paycheck Protection Program) program, designed to help pay salaries to employees and retain the staff of organizations, as well as other types of government subsidies, do not cover the damage caused to art institutions by events that occurred in the country and the world in the first half of 2020.

The survey was attended by 750 directors of museums of various orientations and sizes, a third of whom said that there is a significant risk that their institution will close or that they do not know if it will be able to survive the crisis. Most of the museum managers surveyed – 87% – said they would only have enough funds to cover organizational costs for the next 12 months or less. In addition, 35% of respondents said they have already laid off or plan to lay off up to 20% of their employees, while 37% of those surveyed said they expect to lose 21% to 40% of their income in 2020. The majority of respondents – 64% – noted that due to budget cuts and staff cuts, they expect a reduction in educational projects and other government programs associated with their institutions.

AAM President and CEO Laura Lott said that even with the partial reopening of museums, costs would exceed revenues, and many museums are not financially backed. The trouble faced by museums will affect other areas as well. The disappearance of 12,000 museums will have devastating consequences for society, economy, education systems, and the history of culture.

According to UNESCO, there are about 95 thousand museums in the world, of which more than 35 thousand are located in the United States and about the same in Europe. According to UNESCO, in mid-May 2020, it was believed that about 13% of museums around the world were under the threat of closure.

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