Almost half of museums in the red, “quality will suffer”

The Cobra museum has been hit financially. Photo: Peter Tijhuis

Almost half of museums in the Netherlands operated at a loss in 2022, fuelling fears that many will close or scale down exhibitions.

Museums have been hard put to tackle higher costs, with average inflation rising to 10% while government subsidies went up just 1%.

The crisis is mostly hitting small and medium-sized museums, which have now run out of the reserves they built up after the coronavirus crisis, the Museumvereniging, which represents 469 museums, said.

The increase in energy and staff costs are partly compensated by visitor revenue, director of the Museumvereniging Vera Carasso told broadcaster NOS, but it is not enough.

Carasso said entry prices will go up, which will make museums less accessible, and fewer exhibitions will be organised. “Museum are already cutting down on content and quality,” she said.

She pointed out that higher costs have already led to the dismissal of the artistic director at the Museum Kranenburgh in Bergen aan Zee, while the Cobra Museum in Amsterdam has been told the local authorities will no longer provide financial support from next year. The museum has since accepted a loan from an anonymous source.

Carosso praised attempts by bigger museums to help smaller colleagues by organising travelling exhibitions to attract visitors but said more government aid was needed. “Museums are also custodians of the national heritage and that costs money,” she said.

A good start would be to increase subsidies at the rate of inflation, she said.

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