American Alliance of Museums Survey Says 12,000 Museums Could Close Permanently

American Alliance of Museums Survey Says 12,000 Museums Could Close Permanently

The coronavirus pandemic has disrupted nearly every sector of the art world, with major galleries and museums cutting staff amid months-long closures and new studies forewarning closures of art institutions around the world. Now, a new survey by the American Alliance of Museums and the research firm Dynamic Benchmarking reveals that one-third of U.S. museums could shutter permanently as a result financial fallout related to the crisis.

For its study, the AAM received responses from more than 750 American museum directors, 33 percent of whom said that there is a “significant risk” that their institution would close or that they “didn’t know” if it could survive. A majority of the museums surveyed—87 percent—said they will be able to cover operational expenses for 12 months or less.

Additionally, 35 percent of respondents said they had laid off or furloughed up to 20 percent of their staffs, and 37 percent said they anticipate losing 21 to 40 percent of their income in 2020. Most respondents—64 percent—said they anticipate cutting educational initiatives and other public programming due to slashes to budgets and staff reductions.

In a statement, AAM president and CEO Laura Lott said that, even with partial reopenings, “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.”

“This data is critical as the Alliance continues to advocate for the resources museums require to recover from the current financial crisis,” Lott added.

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