According to the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), the entire cultural sector has been severely affected by the pandemic, with museums hit particularly hard.
Based on data from 104,000 museums provided by 87 Member States, UNESCO has published a new update on its report from last year, Museums around the world in the face of COVID-19.
The newly published report estimates that in 2020, nearly 90 per cent of museums had been closed for an average of 155 days, and since the beginning of 2021, many have had to shut their doors again, due to surging infection rates.
This has resulted in a 70 per cent drop in attendance on average, and a 40 to 60 per cent decline in revenue compared to 2019, the agency reports.
“In the midst of the crisis, we must not lose sight of the fundamental importance of ensuring access to culture and conserving our shared heritage in all its diversity”, said UNESCO chief Audrey Azoulay.
Museums preserve heritage for future generations, promote lifelong learning, provide equal access to culture and spread the values on which humanity is based, said UNESCO.
Their function in terms of social inclusion is also vital to help keep societies together, and they play a major role in both the creative and tourism industries.
The authors also draw attention to traditional educational activities that are hosted by museums, such as school visits, guided tours and workshops.