Visits to Spanish museums registered drops of 81% between March and November 2020. This is corroborated by the report of the Observatory of Spanish Museums, which was presented last Tuesday, May 18, and which studies the impact of the COVID pandemic -19 in 255 museums throughout Spain.
In January 2021, the Ministry of Culture and Sports already released provisional data from this report, in which it was reported that the overall number of public in state museums had been 1,058,918 visitors, which represented a decrease in the number of 63.55% compared to 2019 visits (2,905,337 visitors). The report’s figures now posted, which extends the survey to 255 museums throughout Spain, are even worse, although they register a smaller drop in the summer period, between June and August, in which visits fell by 73%.
Schoolchildren and tourists are the sectors of the public most affected, while local visitors, from the same municipality or province, gained in importance. In fact, some museums, around 8% of the total surveyed and the majority locally owned, even register a significant increase in their number of visits, in the last two quarters of the period studied, between June and November.
In other words, the report collects that with the pandemic the presence in museums of local visitors, from the same municipality or province, becomes more important. Only half of the museums surveyed, however, offer percentage estimates of the origin of their visitors during this period.
The Observatory of Museums of Spain maintains that 68% of the museums have resumed the programming of face-to-face cultural activity, although the majority with reductions and adaptations.
The programming of temporary exhibitions has also been greatly reduced: 49% of the museums indicate that they postponed or canceled 75% or more of the programmed exhibitions. Of course, the reception of the activities stands out: in 55% of the cases, the allowed capacity has been covered in at least 75%. 37% of the museums indicate that they have completely filled the capacity allowed in all the activities.
Along with the permanent exhibition rooms, many museums have been able to reopen other spaces to the public. 81% of the museums that have libraries, and 78% of those that have archives, were able to resume these services.
Museums emerge from the pandemic more digital than ever
The report highlights that “digital activity has been one of the most important lines of work, both during the closure and after the reopening.” According to the Observatory, museums have used the Internet “as a tool to maintain contact with the public and to support the reopening through campaigns on their website or social networks.”
In data: 68% of museums have increased the availability of materials on their website, their social networks or other platforms. And 86% of museums have increased their number of followers on social networks, as well as more work on interaction with them. However, the consultations to the webs register drops during the confinement, which seems to indicate that their visits are linked to the face-to-face visit.
In addition, and facing the labor instability of the country during the pandemic, 78% of the surveyed museums declare that their own workforce has remained unchanged in number, compared to 55% who affirm the same in the case of external contracts. 34% of museums indicate that the number of hired staff has been reduced.