Friday 26 February 2021

Few museums have closed for good but staff bear brunt of Covid measures

The museum of bags and purses was one of the first to close. Photo: Bert Knottenbeld via Wikimedia Commons

Despite forecasts that a quarter of museums would have to close their doors for good by the end of 2020, most have weathered the storm albeit at the expense of staff, Dutch museum assocation Museumvereniging said on Wednesday.

The museum umbrella organisation, which has 450 members, said that emergency financial support measures have helped museums but that temporary contracts are not being renewed and that more people on fixed contracts are now also facing redundancy.

Over 30% of participants in a poll held by the Museumvereniging among its  members have had to let temporary staff go and almost a quarter think they will be forced to do the same in the near future. Some 10% have had to fire staff on fixed contracts, which is a first, the association said.

The association warned that job losses will increase even further because of the coronavirus measures which will probably see museums closed until the early spring. In particular, museums which are mainly dependent on local authority subsidies expect that source of funding to be cut.

The arrival of the vaccines and fast testing means there is light at the end of the tunnel, the Museumvereniging said, adding that museums need ‘a predictable scaling down of the measures’ as soon as the coronavirus figures allow it.

The sector also needs a firm commitment from local authorities and the government on the continuation of financial support from July 1, which is the cut off point for the current support package, the association said.

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