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Museums anxious about pulling in visitors after lockdown

Over half of museum and gallery directors questioned by Art Fund were worried about the viability of their organisations.

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The British Museum was the most popular visitor attraction in the UK in 2019 (John Walton/PA)

The British Museum was the most popular visitor attraction in the UK in 2019 (John Walton/PA)

The British Museum was the most popular visitor attraction in the UK in 2019 (John Walton/PA)

Museums and galleries are worried about their ability to attract visitors back when they reopen, a report has revealed.

Art Fund said that 98% of organisations in its research have cancelled or postponed exhibitions, mostly until next year.

But 85% of directors surveyed are worried about the ability to attract visitors back when they open their doors again.

It is thought that the core audience – particularly older visitors, tourists and schools – may be the slowest to return.

The findings are in a report on the challenges facing museums and galleries because of the coronavirus pandemic.

It said that 56% of directors worried about the viability of their organisations.

There is also concern that there will be less money available from philanthropy and sponsorship in future.

It is felt that the costs of managing social distancing in smaller areas might outweigh the benefits of reopening, and digital resources and expertise are patchy, the report said.

Sarah Philp, director of programme and policy at the arts charity, said: “The challenge faced by the museum sector cannot be overstated.

“We hope that the findings from our research will inform and support the work of many museum and arts sector organisations, agencies and funders.”

Art Fund plans to make an announcement on its support for museums in June.

Philp said: “We now all need to come together to help museums adapt to meet the challenges they face.”

PA