Museums call for financial support as visitor numbers plunge

Photo: Alex Nicholls-Lee
An empty Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam. Photo: Alex Nicholls-Lee

Dutch museums are calling on the government and local authorities to continue to support them financially after visitor numbers plunged because of the coronavirus restrictions.

The museum association Museumvereniging said on Monday that it expected fewer than 10 million people to visit a museum this year, compared with 33 million in 2019, before coronavirus struck.

In particular, visits by foreign tourists plunged by 82%, from 10 million in 2019 to 1.8 million in 2020, the association said.

To compensate for the compulsory closures and limits on visitor numbers, museums are appealing to the government to make extra funding available in the final three months of 2021 and throughout 2022. Support for sectors hit by the pandemic is due to end in October.

‘Museums need more time to recuperate,’ the association said, pointing out that coronavirus restrictions are still in place.

‘Furthermore, smaller museums have received little emergency support and have therefore used up their reserves,’ the association said. ‘With extra support, museums can bridge the shortfall in visitor numbers and maintain quality. A national recovery fund is essential.’

Last year, the association, which has 450 members, forecast that a quarter of museums would have to close their doors for good by the end of 2020 because of the shortage of cash. In the end, only a handful, including Amsterdam’s Museum of Bags and Purses, have done so.

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