The ongoing pandemic had an unprecedented effect on numerous museums across the world. COVID-19 cases are showing no sign of beating a retreat regardless of the speeding vaccination drives throughout the world. Cultural tourism is estimated to be worth 40 percent of the entire European tourism. This means that every fourth person out of ten tourists eagerly pick Europe as their tourist destination due to its cultural offerings.
The concept of virtual museum tours was already becoming the talk of the town before global lockdown. And after the outbreak of COVID-19, the party doesn’t seem like ending anytime soon.
In 2020, the Network of European Museum Organisations (NEMO) conducted an analysis to better comprehend the ongoing pandemic’s economic impact on museums in Europe. They further documented and demonstrated any possibilities of shifting museums digitally and making efficient use of it. Approx 1000 survey responses have been recorded between the duration of five weeks, from Mar 24 until April 30 in the year 2020. The responses have been collected from museums situated in 48 countries, most of which are located in Europe.
What hindered the everyday operations of museums across the world?
In order to understand whether the future of museums depends solely on the Internet, it’s essential to know why have the museums decided to shift their operations virtually and what made them do so. Out of all the museums that provided data, 44 percent happened to lose €1,000 per week. 31 percent of these museums happened to lose €5.000 per week, 18 percent of them incurred losses worth €30,000 per week, and a total of eight percent incurred losses that amounted to €50.000 per week.
The report concluded by NEMO further summarized the following:
- Every three out of five museums in Europe incurred a weekly loss of €20,300 due to the museums remaining closed because of the COVID-19 situation.
- Several museums across Europe had reported a 75-80 percent loss of income; the larger museums which are situated in tourist areas had incurred losses worth thousands of Euros.
- Every three out of ten museums had no option but to lay off contracts with freelance workers until the situation had bettered.
Moreover, museums that depended heavily on any sort of private fundings were reported to be even more vulnerable at the start of the coronavirus situation. Private museums had happened to draw nearly all of their income from sales.
Due to an instant fall in the tourism industry across the world, many museums underwent a direct hit as OECD predicted a 50-70 percent fall in global tourism across Europe.
So, what exactly did these museums do to survive such sudden misfortunes?
They took a step towards providing their services digitally in order to connect with their audiences. Due to this, initially, two out of every five museums that are situated in Europe had reported their online visits increasing drastically.
A few museums that are already providing the virtual museum tours
Some of the world’s most valuable objects are sensitive to things like light, temperature, and humidity. Therefore, not all objects can be displayed to the public since humans cannot control how the environment works. The V&A in London holds the Ardabil carpet that is only put on display for ten minutes every hour.
If you wish to check this carpet out in person, you’ll only be able to do so with a limited light source. Due to museums going online, the carpet will now be displayed for a longer time frame, and viewers can closely examine it through their screens.
Showcasing the carpet for a longer time along with allowing it to remain in a suitable area not only preserves the essence of the carpet, but also makes sure the carpet can be preserved for future generations to see.
The National Museum of Australia happened to test out a virtual museum in 2013 where viewers could control a robot equipped with a camera, speaker, and microphone. Through this, visitors could explore the museum at their own pace and enjoy learning more about the artifacts by listening to the tour guide. This became quite popular amongst children and news about this had spread all across Australia and various other countries.
The Tucson LGBTQ Museum is an online-only museum that is based in Arizona, USA. Although it might not be the best online museum, it still looks after, collects, and curates LGBTQ objects along with similar artifacts since 1967. It showcases the history of the LGBTQ movement and also provides an online space to host exhibitions, provide historical content for all kinds of research students, and collate ideas too.
The Internet Museum which is located in Sweden is a highly technology-driven museum that was opened in 2014. This museum was practically built to document and portray Sweden’s history virtually while creating historical items that were Internet-specific and preserved the country’s digital heritage.
Virtual museums might become a permanent trend
This may come as a surprise for quite a few, but there are various online resources that are similar to museums and serve the same purpose too. They also fit into the category of virtual museums or something similar that is put forward by the Museums Association.
It’s quite obvious that due to the ongoing pandemic alongside advancements in technology, museums are luring in tons of visitors virtually. Countries are looking forward to investing in virtual content to preserve their heritage and educate tourists while maintaining a safe distance.
You Can Access The Entire Collection of Louvre Museum Now Online
The most recent addition to the list of European museums that have chosen to provide virtual museum tours for the spectators is the world-renowned Louvre Museum of Paris. The authorities of the Louvre Museum, on Friday, announced the people from across the world can access the collections of the museum at collections.louvre.fr.
The displayed collection will include the pieces that are both, stored as well as loaned.