Museums’ treasures endure, but how we see them may change

Republished by ECBN from: National Geographic

Europe’s museums are re-opening, but slowly, with socially-distant gallery experiences, temperature checks, and restricted numbers of attendees. Some museums are now reporting visitor rates roughly a quarter of what once was normal. As a visitor experience, having a gallery to yourself—or at least with no gaggle of selfie sticks in sight—can be a transcendent experience. Yet for museum administrators concerned with attendance, engagement, and, most importantly, safety, it remains an uncertain time. (Related: New York’s art scene is digitally reinventing itself while theaters remain closed.). Depending on the size and design of a museum, keeping visitors six feet apart from each other could reduce the number of visitors to just 20 to 50 percent of the building’s maximum capacity, says Julia Pagel, secretary general of the Network of European Museum Organisations (NEMO), an advocacy group representing more than 30,000 museums in Europe. Pagel says the picture for Europe’s museums seems slightly better than the Council report’s projections, but not much. Global tourism is expected to drop between 50 and 70 percent this year, and without international tourists—63 million foreign tourists came to Italy in 2019—the Continent’s biggest cultural depositories are losing hundreds of thousands of dollars a week.

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