New AAM Survey Reveals a Third of US Museums Have Been Closed Since March

The American Alliance of Museums recently published the results of a survey about the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on the museum field. Among the findings, the survey revealed that nearly a third of US museums have been closed since March.

AAM conducted the survey of 850 museum directors in October. This survey was a follow up to the organization’s June survey; the directors were asked the same questions in order to gather updated data on the state of the field. AAM found that thirty percent of museums that closed in March have not reopened and have no plans to reopen in the immediate future. The museums that did reopen spent between $30,000 to $750,000 to safely reopen. One-third of museum directors also indicated that they were uncertain if their institutions would survive into next fall.

The survey also revealed the pandemic had a significant impact on employment within the museum field. More than half of the museums that responded have furloughed or laid off employees. Frontline staff were the most impacted by these lay offs followed by education, security/maintenance, and collections staff. Overall, respondents indicate that approximately 30% of staff are currently out of work.

In a press release, Laura Lott, President and CEO of AAM, described what the October survey indicates about the field nine months into the pandemic. “The financial state of U.S. museums is moving from bad to worse. 30% of museums remain closed since the March lockdown and those that have reopened are operating on an average of 35% of their regular attendance—a reduction that is unsustainable long-term. Those that did safely serve their communities this summer do not have enough revenue to offset higher costs, especially during a potential winter lockdown. Without financial help, we could see thousands of museums shutter forever,” Lott said.

The full findings of the AAM survey can be viewed here.