“Museums play a fundamental role in the resilience of societies”- UNESCO Director-General Audrey Azoulay

COVID-19: UNESCO and ICOM concerned about the situation faced by the world’s museums
On the occasion of International Museum Day, two studies by UNESCO and the International Council of Museums (ICOM) confirm that museums have been especially affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, with nearly 90% of them, or more than 85,000 institutions, having closed their doors for varying lengths of time during the crisis. Furthermore, in Africa and the Small Island Developing States (SIDS), only 5% of museums were able to offer online content to their audiences. .

The two studies, involving Member States and museum professionals, were aimed at assessing the impact of COVID-19 on museums and museum institutions. They also aimed to find out how the sector had adapted to the pandemic and explore ways to support institutions in its aftermath.

“Museums play a fundamental role in the resilience of societies. We must help them cope with this crisis and keep them in touch with their audiences,” said UNESCO Director-General Audrey Azoulay. “This pandemic also reminds us that half of humanity does not have access to digital technologies. We must work to promote access to culture for everyone, especially the most vulnerable and isolated.”

The study conducted by ICOM highlights the fact that museums that have been deprived of their visitors will face a decrease in their income. Professions related to museums, their operations and their outreach could also be seriously affected.

“We are fully aware of and confident in the tenacity of museum professionals to meet the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic,” said ICOM President Suay Aksoy. “However, the museum field cannot survive on its own without the support of the public and private sectors. It is imperative to raise emergency relief funds and to put in place policies to protect professionals and self-employed workers on precarious contracts.”


  • Nearly 90% of museums around the world have closed during the crisis.
  • In Africa and Small Island Developing States (SIDS), only 5% of museums have developed online content for their audiences.
  • Nearly 13% of museums may never reopen their doors.
  • The number of museums worldwide has increased by almost 60% since 2012 to around 95,000.

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