The American Alliance of Museums (AAM) recently published a survey designed to gauge the state of the US museum industry during the COVID-19 pandemic. The survey results were troubling, at least a third of directors of 760 museums reported a "significant risk" of closing permanently within 16 months.
The survey results document extreme financial distress in the museum field. One-third (33%) of respondents were not confident they would be able to survive 16 months without additional financial relief, and 16 percent felt their organization was at significant risk of permanent closure. The vast majority (87%) of museums have only 12 months or less of financial operating reserves remaining, with 56% having less than six months left to cover operations. Forty-four percent had furloughed or laid off some portion of their staff, and 41 percent anticipated reopening with reduced staff. - the survey said
AAM President and CEO Laura Lott told NPR, "there's a large public perception that museums rely on government support when the reality is they get only a quarter of their funding from the government."
AAM stats show US museums receive about 850 million visits per year. However, this year, because of the virus pandemic and strict social distancing rules, those numbers will dramatically be reduced, resulting in the lower ticket, gift shop, and food sales.
Of the 760 museums surveyed, 40% were history museums, historic houses, and historical societies. Others were aquariums, botanical gardens, art museums, and science centers.
AAM said museums support "726,000 direct and indirect jobs and contribute $50 billion each year to the economy," adding that "over 40% plan to reduce staff and will need to spend additional funds to ensure their ability to reopen safely."
To sum up, the great museum bust is dead ahead. Does that mean cheap art is about the hit auction houses and reverse lofty prices?