Overview of museum reopenings

With the help of our members, we have gathered information about the status quo of museum operations during the pandemic. By clicking on the arrows, you will find country-specific information concerning reopenings, national guidelines and advocacy measures. The list is non-exhaustive, and we welcome additions and updates.

The overview is accompanied by a NEMO statement calling for museums to reopen and receive support to stay open. Museums help people navigate our new normal while allowing them to mentally recharge in spaces that can be tailored to adhere to Covid-19 security measures.

  • Open or closed?
    • Austria

      Museums have been allowed to open since 8 February.

      However, local restrictions in Vienna, Lower Austria and Burgenland have kept museums closed since 1 April.

      Austrian Museums Association, 4th week of March

    • Belgium

      Museum could reopen on 1 December 2020 after having to close again on 29 October 2020.

      ICOM Belgium Wallonia-Brussels, 2nd week of February

    • Bulgaria

      As of April 1st, museums could re-open with 30 % capacity, observing physical distance of at least 1.5 m and obligatory use of face mask.

      National Museum of Military History Bulgaria, 1st week of April

    • Croatia

      Museums in Croatia have been and continue to be allowed to remain open. However, museums in Zagreb, Sisak and Petrinja are closed because of the damages caused by the catastrophic earthquakes.   

      Croatian Museums Association and ICOM Croatia, 2nd week of February 

    • Cyprus

      Since 8 February, all museums and archaeological sites have been allowed to open. 

      Costas and Rita Severis Foundation (Centre of Visual Arts and Research), 2nd week of February  

    • Czechia

      Museums are closed since December 2020.

      Czech Association of Museums and Galleries, 1st week of February 

    • Denmark

      All museums in Denmark closed on 16 December 2020 and will remain closed until at least 28 February 2021. However, there are indications that suggest that museums, together with the rest of society, will be closed until Easter.

      Association of Danish Museums, 1st week of February 

    • Estonia

      Museums are open in Estonia.   

      Museums were closed during the spring and museums in some parts of Estonia (Tallinn, Harju County and Eastern Estonia) were closed again due to higher rates of coronavirus infections from 28 December to 17 January. 

      Estonian Museums Association, 2nd week of February 

    • Finland

      There is no general order or regulation that museums must be closed, but authorities have given recommendations to some regions that museums should be closed. Authorities update their recommendations once per month. 

      Finnish Museums Association, 2nd week of February

    • France

      Museums and all other public cultural institutions are closed until further notice. At the moment the health situation is particularly tense and museums have therefore not been authorized to reopen. However, the Minister of Culture has indicated on several occasions that museums, which have extremely rigorous health protocols - could be the first cultural facilities to reopen. 

      ICOM France, 3rd week of February  

    • Germany

      Museums will be one of the first cultural institutions to reopen when Germany starts opening up the country on 8 March 2021.

      If the 7-day incidence is below 50 museums may open as normal. If the incidence is between 50-100, visitors have to book a time slot for entry and the museum must assure that the visitors can be contacted in case of infection.

      German Museums Association, 1st week of March 

    • Greece

      Museums are closed since mid-November 2020. At the moment there is no reopening date in sight, especially considering that the country looks to be heading into another strict lockdown. 

      National Museum of Contemporary Art, Athens (EMST), 2nd week of February  

    • Hungary

      Museums are closed until further notice. The Ministry of Human Affairs is believed to want to reopen museums after more people are vaccinated. 

      The Pulszky Society - Hungarian Museums Association, 1st week of February

    • Iceland

      Most museum reopened in the end of November after having to close in September. 

      Icelandic Museums Association, 1st week of February 

    • Ireland

      Museum are closed until further notice.

      Irish Museum Association, 1st week of February 

    • Italy

      Starting from 26 April, museums in 15 regions were able to re-open their doors to the public provided visitors book in advance.

      In Italy, museums may open if they are located in yellow zones (low risk), whereas they have to stay closed in orange (medium risk) and red (high risk) zones.

      Department of Cultural Heritage of the Region Emilia Romagna, 4th week of April

    • Luxembourg

      Every museum in Luxembourg reopened since 11 January 2021.

      The National Museum of History and Art, 3rd week of February 

    • Latvia

      Currently, all museums but open-air museums and outdoor exhibitions are closed.   

      It was believed that the government would permit museums to open from 7 February. However, since the epidemiological situation remains difficult, the measures put in place to reduce the spread were prolonged until 6 April.

      Latvian Museums Association and the Shamir - Riga Ghetto and Latvian Holocaust Museum, 3rd week of February

    • Lithuania

      Museums opened again on 15 March after being closed since 7 November 2020.

      Lithuanian Museums Association, 3rd week of March

    • Malta

      Museums are open with some reservations. The situation changes with the rate of infections. Heritage Malta issues a list of sites open to the public every month which would communicate changes in opening hours. In the case of private museums, standing health authority regulations would apply. 

      Heritage Malta, 2nd week of February  

    • The Netherlands

      Museums are closed as part of the national lockdown, which will last until at least 2 March 2021. There are criteria under which reopening will be likely, put into a so-called ‘Roadmap COVID measures’ published on 2 February. It has four risk levels (1) vigilant (2) worrisome (3) Serious (4) Very Serious. At the moment we are as a country in level (4) Very serious. When the country drops to level (3), museum could reopen under certain conditions. 

      Netherlands Museums Association, 1st week of February  

    • Norway

      Museums across Norway are open with the exception of museums located in the Oslo and Bergen area, where the number of Covid-19 cases is high. Museums in Oslo have been closed since November 2020, which is now longer than the spring closures. 

      Norwegian Museums Association, 1st week of February 

    • Poland

      After opening on 1 February 2021, museums in Poland must close again from 20.03.2021 to 09.04.2021 due to increased infections.

      National Institute for Museums and Public Collections, 3rdweek of March

    • Portugal

      Museums were allowed to reopen again in the beginning of April.

      General Direction Cultural Heritage Portugal (DGPC), 1st week of April

    • Romania

      Museum may be open unless they are situated in an area where the incidence of Covid-19 cases is higher than 3/1000 inhabitant. Approximately 80% of all museums are open. Museums in Romania have not had to close again since the end of the first closure, which ended in May 2020. 

      National Network of Romanian Museums, 2nd week of February 

    • Slovakia

      Museums are closed. From 15 February 2021, Slovakia is governed on regional level according to "a COVID automat". Depending on the colour classification/ level of a region, the automat system indicates when shops, institutions and museums etc. may open. The levels reflect the number of infections in the region.

      Union of Museums in Slovakia, 2nd week of February 

    • Slovenia

      As of 6 February, all museums could reopen. However, the situation is fluctuating, and museums have had to close and open several times in the last months. 

      A survey conducted by the Slovenian Museums Assocation shows that people missed visiting the museum. Also, an important cultural holiday on 18 February attracted as many as 17.000 visitors despite the current regulations on space limitations. 

      Slovenian Museums Association, 1st week of February 

    • Spain

      Most museums have been able to remain open since June 2020.

      Spanish Association of Cultural Heritage Managers, 2nd week of February  

    • Sweden

      Most museums in Sweden have closed although they all are free to stay open. 

      Some museums are expected to open again in April and May.

      Swedish Museums Association, 1st week of April

    • Switzerland

      Swiss museums were allowed to reopen from 1 March 2021.

      During the lockdown, school children under the age of 16 have been allowed to take part in cultural activities. So, while the museums were closed, groups of school children could still visit. From 1 March, schoolchildren up to the age of 18 will be allowed to visit museums in groups. 

      Previously, museums throughout the country were closed since mid-January 2021 by decision of the federal authorities. Prior to this, most cantons had ordered a cantonal closure of museums, some as early as November 2020. The cantons could still extend the closure of museums in their territory. 

      Swiss Museums Association , 1st week of March

    • The United Kingdom

      Museums in Scotland are allowed to open from 26 April 2021.

      Museums in England are expected to open starting from 17 May 2021 as the country enters Step 3 of its reopening plan.

      Different rules are applied to different regions depending on the public health situation. Wales and Northern Ireland have their own versions of the Tier system and their own open reopening plans. At the moment, museums are closed until further notice.

      UK Museums Association, 4th week of April

  • Guidelines & safety measures
    • Austria

      Visitors must wear a FFP2 mask during the visit and only one visitor per 20 m2 is allowed. No events or guided tours are allowed. Hygiene posters are already available from the Austrian Museums Association.

      Austrian Museums Association, 1st week of February 

    • Belgium

      Museum shops, cafés and restaurants have to follow the same rule as all other shops and restaurants. Therefore, museum shops could reopen from 1 December as other non-essential shops, but cafés and restaurants are still closed since end of October and will remain so until the general rule changes.   

      Since the school system is in the "red level”, external visits are not possible and therefore visits to museums by school classes of children under 12 years of age are not possible. Older school classes have not been able to visit since the beginning of the school year.  

      Museums need to adhere to the following regulations: 

      • The maximum number of visitors allowed at the same time in a museum is based on the average visiting time and the minimum area of 10m2 per visitor.  
      • Visits are possible by time slot only.  
      • Implementing an online reservation system, by telephone or other means. Reservation is not mandatory, so visits are possible without reservation if there is space in the time slot. However, not all museums are flexible in this regard, for example federal museums require online reservation and online payment for the visit.  
      • Food and drink machines are allowed, but the resting areas are closed.  
      • Lockers are only open if the space allow it or if it is managed.  
      • Face masks are mandatory (except for children under 12 years old) and the museum must provide hand disinfectant at the entrance.  
      • People can visit in groups but if they do not live in the same household, they must maintain, like other visitors, 1.5m of distance between them.  
      • Only groups (activities, courses) under 12 years of age are possible, with a limit of 50 participants.  
      • One-way routes must be established and the entrance and exit flows must be separated if they do not allow 1.5m distance between people coming and going.  
      • Audio-guides must be disinfected between uses.  
      • Touch systems must be disabled if a stick-in method is not possible (system version issue) or if they cannot be disinfected between uses.  

      ICOM Belgium Wallonia-Brussels, 2nd week of February

    • Bulgaria

      Museums need to adhere to the following regulations:  

      • Operations are restricted to 30% of the normal capacity.  
      • Museum cafés and restaurants must remain closed until 1 March 2021. 
      • Museum staff must be provided with personal protection kits (masks, etc.) whenever the minimum required distance of 1.5 m (indoor and outdoor) cannot be maintained at the workplace. Visitors have to wear masks indoors at all time as well as outdoors when 1.5 m distance cannot be maintained between persons not sharing a household.  
      • Measures to implement and assure frequent airing and disinfection of the premisses must be in place. It is required to install disinfectant stations for use by employees and visitors at all entry points, as well as posted instructions detailing the adopted sanitary measures.  
      • Workforce rotation and home office, whenever possible, is recommended. Reopening also requires that measures would be put in place to enforce the use of masks by employees and visitors in all indoor premisses. Masks are also made mandatory for use outdoors whenever physical distance of   
      • Organisation of mass events and group visits is forbidden.  

      National Museum of Military History Bulgaria and Muzeiko, 2nd week of February 

    • Croatia

      Compared to the forced museum closures during the spring of 2020, museums have been recognised as places with low risk of infection. Therefore, they did not have to close during the second Croatian lockdown.  

      Museums should generally adhere to the following regulations:   

      • museums have to stay up to date with local and national Covid-19 regulations 
      • they must adhere to limitations on number of visitors and maintain hygiene standard  
      • the visitors and staff must have their temperature taken upon entry and people must remain 2 meters apart 
      • advanced booking online is preferred.   

      Croatian Museums Association and ICOM Croatia, 2nd week of February 

    • Cyprus

      For the second reopening, the government did not publish a specific protocol for the museums to follow. Museums must follow the general hygiene standards that stand for all the working places, which include: 

      • wearing masks,  
      • providing disinfectant at the entrance and to clearly displaying the COVID-19 protective guidelines 
      • half of the museum’s staff should provide a negative rapid test every week. The rapid tests are provided for free by the government 
      • additionally, no events or school visits are allowed

      Costas and Rita Severis Foundation (Centre of Visual Arts and Research), 2nd week of February  

    • Denmark

      Although museums in Denmark will remain closed until at least 28 February 2021, From 8 February 2021, young school children (age 7-10) can take part in educational activities in the museums, as museums are considered a part of their educational facilities. 

      Association of Danish Museums, 1st week of February 

    • Estonia

      Museums need to adhere to the following regulations:  

      • People should keep distances (2 meters apart, maximum 2 people or 1 family together) 
      • Disinfection possibilities should be ensured, all touchable surfaces should be cleaned regularly, hands-on objects should be cleaned after every use.  
      • There are visitor limits for indoor events in museums (50 percent of the usual capacity).  
      • Masks are obligatory indoors.  
      • Public indoor events are allowed if the audience is assigned seating with plenty of space between visitors.   
      • Educational programs are allowed, but different class groups may not be mixed.  

      These official recommendations are reviewed every two weeks.   

      Estonian Museums Association, 2nd week of February 

    • Finland

      Most of the museums that are open follow recommendations of limiting the number of visitors to ensure 2 meters of distance. If a region faces a peak in COVID transmission rates, recommendations are tightened and would then apply to museums also.

      Finnish Museums Association, 2nd week of February

    • Iceland

      Museums need to ensure: 

      • no more than 200 visitors at a time, 
      • masks are compulsory, 
      • everything needs to be thoroughly sanitized. 

      Icelandic Museums Association, 3rd week of February 

    • Ireland

      In preparation for future reopening, the Irish Museums Association has published updated guidance on reopening museums in the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland.

      Irish Museum Association, 1st week of February 

    • Italy

      The guidelines of reopening that were developed during the spring remain almost unchanged. Museums should adhere to the following regulations:  

      • online booking,  
      • limiting number of visitors,  
      • distancing,  
      • hygiene measures, etc.  
      • Additionally, museums that have reopened are only allowed to operate during the “curfew hours” on weekdays.  

      For the guidelines in full, see the Website of the Ministry also linking to other regional websites (available in Italian).

      Department of Cultural Heritage of the Region Emilia Romagna, 1st week of February 

    • Luxembourg

      Museums are open to the public under following conditions:  

      • group visits (guided or not) and any other activity organized at the museum are to be considered as gatherings and are therefore limited to a total of 10 participants (plus tour guide), respecting the 2-meter social distancing rule, 
      • mass gatherings (max. 100 people) are subject to the conditions of seating and a guaranty of minimum distance of two meters, 
      • the wearing of mask (which the visitor is required bring) throughout the visit as well as hand disinfection at the entrance of each exhibition space are compulsory, 
      • registration by phone or email is mandatory prior to all activities or group visits. 

      The National Museum of History and Art, 3rd week of February 

    • Lithuania

      Museum safety measures and guidelines have been determined by the Republic of Lithuania Minister - Head of State Operations for Emergencies at the State Level in 2020 April 23 by decision no. V-974 “On Necessary Conditions for Visiting Archives, Libraries and Museums”, as well as the “Methodological Recommendations for The Activity of Quarantine Insurance for Lithuanian Museums”, approved by the Order of the Minister of Culture. Guidelines established include: 

      • allowing only one visitor per 10 square meters,  
      • maintaining the distance between visitors at least two meters,  
      • using hand disinfectants,  
      • wearing face masks, etc. 

      Lithuanian Museums Association, 1st week of February 

    • Malta

      The only guidelines in force are the ones issued by the health authorities applicable for public spaces. Other museums went a step further and adopted recommendations issued by ICOM.  

      Heritage Malta, 2nd week of February  

    • The Netherlands

      When the country drops to level (3), museum could reopen and would be expected to follow certain guidelines, such as: 

      • Reservations 
      • Registrations  
      • Health questions to visitors  
      • Providing seating.  

      In levels (2) and (1) the requirements are less strict, as is the museum’s COVID-protocol. 

      Netherlands Museums Association, 1st week of February  

    • Norway

      Museums that keep open must comply with national events regulations and the general hygiene measures and closed museums are still able to keep their shops and cafés open to secure a bit of income and stay in touch with the public. 

      Norwegian Museums Association, 1st week of February 

    • Poland

      The reopening recommendations are based on the same document that was established for first round of reopenings, they can be found here in detail (available in English) and here with some further updates.

      Additionally, one can find guidelines for museum education during the pandemic prepared in 2020 by NIMOZ and Forum Edukatorów Muzealnych – Forum of Museum Educators here (available in polish). 

      National Institute for Museums and Public Collections, 1st week of February

    • Slovakia

      Museums can be opened in the third warning level of the Slovakian “COVID automat” system. In this level, museums must adhere to the following guidelines: 

      • only individual visitors and households are accepted  
      • 1 person per 15m2 is allowed  
      • each visitor must present a valid antigen or PCR test 

      In level 2 and 1, museums would be able to ffer tours of six visitors in level 2 and thirty visitors in level 1. Some regions are now in the level 3 warning, but as long as the whole country is in black colour, every museum must stay closed until the country is classified as level 3 (dark red colour). 

      Union of Museums in Slovakia, 2nd week of February 

    • Slovenia

      If a museum is in a yellow, orange or red region, it is allowed to open. We have a regulation of 1 visitor per 30 square meters. There are strict hygiene standards and, in some cases, advance bookings. 

      Slovenian Museums Association, 1st week of February 

    • Spain

      Museums should generally adhere to the following regulations:  

      • Visitors are asked to book the ticket and time slot in advance.  
      • Visitors must wear a mask during the visit, keep distance and their temperature is checked upon entry.  
      • Visitors are asked to minimize physical contact with the staff and the cloakrooms are closed.  
      • Groups of maximum 10 people (including the guide) are allowed.  
      • Audio guides are not being offered at the moment.   

      Furthermore, this protocol for the for the reopening of state-owned and state-managed museums was developed by the Ministry of Culture and Sport Office of State Museums (available in English).

      Spanish Association of Cultural Heritage Managers, 2nd week of February  

    • The United Kingdom

      The official guidelines for museum reopening have been continuously updated to reflect new developments and increased infection rates. Under this guidance, museums must ensure that social distancing is enforced in museums, meet hygiene standards etc. Many museums put these measures into practice during the summer and autumn before they were forced to close again. 

      UK Museums Association, 2nd week of February 

  • Statement & advocacy
    • Austria

      In a statement, the Minister of Culture Andrea Mayer underlines the importance reopening museums. She said that “Cultural institutions are places of inspiration, reflection and intellectual debate. People lack these aspects of life. I therefore think it is essential that these areas are also taken into account when we think about what can be made possible again and under which conditions.”.  In connection to this, Belvedere director Stella Rollig said that people need something else than just taking walks.  

      Austrian Museums Association, 1st week of February 

    • Belgium

      Museum associations lobbied to prevent the closure of museums in October during online meetings with the ministries of culture. Eventually, the French speaking museum associations (Musées et Société en Wallonie, BrusselsMuseums and ICOM Belgique Wallonie-Bruxelles) issued a press release prior to a national health security meeting and the news articles reached directly all the ministries in Belgium. The organisations also met to prepare official guidelines for the several steps of health emergency so that they could immediately communicate their views on the closure and reopening.  

      Statements:  

      ICOM Belgium Wallonia-Brussels, 2nd week of February

    • Bulgaria

      Politicians in Bulgaria have expressed support for the citizen’s right of cultural life, and the Bulgarian Museums Association has advocated for the publication of a specific methodology regulating and supporting museum operations in the pandemic.   

      National Museum of Military History Bulgaria, and Muzeiko, 2nd week of February 

    • Cyprus

      There has been a huge debate between the cultural sector and the government since artists, musicians, theatres etc. have been out of work for a long time without financial support from the state. Many are advocating that cultural places should open as soon as possible. It has been considered that museums have been allowed to open in the second opening phase to address this concern specifically. Recently, theatres have opened with a maximum of 50 people for each performance.  

      Costas and Rita Severis Foundation (Centre of Visual Arts and Research), 2nd week of February  

    • Denmark

      In a statement, the Association of Danish Museums suggests that museums should be allowed to reopen early once the restrictions are eased. Expert reports state that museums and libraries are particularly well suited to open safely. Therefore, museums should not be placed in the large category of “Indoor sports and culture activity”. Rather than a slightly arbitrary distinction between outdoor and indoor culture, priority should be given to the activities that actually take place, the significant mental benefits, and the very low health risk in museums.

      Furthermore, the Association of Danish Museums encourages the government to repeat the successful model of the Summer package (a scheme that included state aided discount on museum entry) to encourage people to return to the museum once they reopen. 

      Association of Danish Museums, 1st week of February 

    • Estonia

      The previous Minister of Culture (Culture minister wants museums to reopen next week) stood for keeping museums, theatres, etc., open. The change of government took place in January 2021. 

      Estonian Museums Association, 2nd week of February 

    • Finland

      The museum sector has high hopes for new act of infectious diseases that will help make the situation clearer. It defines museums as non- or low-risk sites. This means that if a museum is defined as a non-risk site and it can provide the proper hygiene and security features, it should be or must be open.

      Finnish Museums Association, 2nd week of February

    • France

      Several open letters and petitions have been issued by museum professionals with the demand of allowing museums to open. For instance, the Palais de Tokyo issued a petition that was signed by more than 116 directors of museums, art centres and FRAC. In an open letter published in Le Monde, people from the cultural world came together to call for the reopening of museums.  

      About 80% of the French museums are regionally run. Some communities are suggesting that they could test different scenarios of reopening cultural sites by adapting health protocols gradually to reinstate cultural life; first museums, monuments, and cinema, and then live performance. Some cities, for instance the Mayor of Strasbourg, are considering different scenarios for a gradual reopening of cultural places by strengthening health protocols. However, these scenarios and suggestions have yet not been approved.  

      ICOM France, 3rd week of February  

    • Germany

      On 2 February 2021, the German Museums Association (GMA) released a statement calling for the reopening of museums and a long-term opening strategy.

      On 8 February, the German Museums Association issued another statement in response to the government’s three stage reopening strategy of the cultural sector. The strategy suggests that museums will be opened in the second stage together with shops and malls. Although the German Museums Association welcomes the strategy, it suggests that museums should be opened in the first stage together with schools since they also are places of education. 

      German Museums Association, 2nd week of February 

    • Ireland

      The Irish Museums Association was successful in lobbying for museums in the Republic of Ireland to be allowed open under a less restrictive level (moving from inclusion in Level 2 to Level 3 in a 5-level Framework for Living with Covid-19), before national lockdown occurred again (Level 5) at the end of December. The current focus of the Association is for this to be retained and not reversed. 

      Most of this activity took the form of direct approaches to the Irish Government, including submission of 'Museums and the Road to a Resilient Recovery in Ireland’ (October 2020), outlining measures to aid recovery and strengthen the museum sector, and an effective letter-campaign to relevant politicians signed by over 50 main museum directors requesting that reopening of museums in a less restrictive level be considered. For more information, see Lobbying.ie 

      Irish Museum Association, 1st week of February 

    • Italy

      When museums closed on 5 November 2020, several articles of protest were written by museum professionals, CEOs and chairs for culture, a Letter of the ICOM Italy Chair and petitions launched for the whole cultural sector, including theatres and cinemas. Now the sector is advocating for keeping museums open on weekends too. The sector is asking that decisions to open or close museums are not solely dependent on the infection rate within a given region, but that other factors are taken into account, such as the number of inhabitants, average visitor numbers, etc. 

      Department of Cultural Heritage of the Region Emilia Romagna, 1st week of February 

    • Lithuania

      The Lithuanian Association of Museums, based on the recommendations of NEMO and the World Health Organization, twice applied to the President, Prime Minister and Minister of Culture to allow museums to be opened to visitors, but failed to convince political leaders that it was safe to visit museums. 

      Lithuanian Museums Association, 1st week of February 

    • The Netherlands

      The Netherlands Museums Association (NMA) together with the big umbrella organisation the Taskforce Cultural and Creative Industries (111 organisations) advocates for reopening as soon as it is considered safe. They are calling on the government to experiment with field labs, events which are experiments for safe reopening to the public.  The Roadmap from the government which was published on 2 February gives a first indication of a long-term plan.  

      In a statement about the lockdown extension, the director of the Netherlands Museum Association Mirjam Moll made an appeal for museums that can and want to open for appointment for primary school classes when the schools reopen. “How great would it be if, now that primary schools reopen, museums could take up their role in society - for the public of the future - to the fullest?! Especially now every child deserves to go to a museum with school. It is safe, educational and inspiring.” 

      Netherlands Museums Association, 1st week of February  

    • Norway

      A recent report from the Norwegian Museums Association shows that on average the visitor number decreased by 53,14 % in 2020. 

      Norwegian Museums Association, 1st week of February 

    • Poland

      The decision of the Prime Minister was taken based on the recommendation of the Minister of Culture, National Heritage and Sport. The museum professionals, the museums organisations (like for instance: Polish Association of Museums Professionals and the National Institute for Museums and Public Collections) and directors of public contemporary art galleries also asked the Minister of Culture, National Heritage and Sport to reopen museums.  Official ministry guidelines states that “The decision to open museums and art galleries was based on analyses proving that these institutions were well prepared to comply with the guidelines that minimize the risk of infection. Reports of international museum organizations were also taken into account, both in terms of the social impact of museums and their preparation to meet sanitary requirements.” NEMO’s report was also mentioned.

      National Institute for Museums and Public Collections, 1st week of February

    • Slovenia

      Slovenia has a system of colours/phases – black, red, orange and yellow, black being the strictest phase. The Slovenian museums have managed to include museum openings up to the red phase rather than the yellow. Thus, museums are closed only in worst case scenarios. The Slovenian Museums Association has kept a regular dialogue about museums reopening with the National Institute for Public Health. The discussions have focused on museums as safe spaces, their very strict hygiene standards, their proven ability to take care of their visitors and that there have been no proven cases of anyone getting COVID-19 while visiting museums. 

      Slovenian Museums Association, 1st week of February 

    • Spain

      To reopen the museums, the effort was concentrated on systematizing and applying the necessary measures to achieve a safe reopening for visitors and workers. Since then, the experiences of each museum and territory have led to testing tools, resources as well as new forms of presence that seem to lead us toward a hybrid museum, in which virtual applications are combined with physical presence, in insofar as this is possible. 

      Spanish Association of Cultural Heritage Managers, 2nd week of February  

    • Sweden

      In January 2021 a new law, called the Pandemic Law, was adopted. Although the law technically could be used to close museums, the Swedish Museums Association welcomes it since it clearly states that more adapted and accurate restrictions/ regulations would be made. According to the Pandemic Law, a maximum of 1 person per 10 m2 is the limit for shops etc. Many museums wish to use this measure to assure safe visits.

      At a recent press conference, it was stated that the national restrictions are prolonged, but the Minister of Culture also said that they are preparing certain measures that will make it easier for museums to take the decision to reopen once the situation allows for it. The proposal would allow museums to operate and open on the same criteria as shops. 

      Swedish Museums Association, 1st week of February 

    • The United Kingdom

      Following the announcement that museums will be reopened on 17 May at the earliest, after non-essential shops, the Museums Association and other museum bodies have reacted strongly and calls for museums of England to open earlier. 

      UK Museums Association, 4th week of February 

  • Museums’ response & status
    • Austria

      The Austrian Museums Association reports that all museums will open, but that the museums that are usually are closed during winter will wait to open until Easter. 

      Austrian Museums Association, 1st week of February 

    • Belgium

      Most museums reopened when it was possible. However, for economic reasons, some museums are still closed. If museums open, they will not receive state compensation for their operational losses and the hygiene measures may be too costly for some. Some museums did not open all of their spaces and others are only open on weekends due to part of the staff being on furlough. 

      ICOM Belgium Wallonia-Brussels, 2nd week of February

    • Bulgaria

      Initial reports from museum directors indicates a drop of visitors. The largest Bulgarian museum on the Danube reports over 50% drop in their visitors, traditional cultural tourism destinations report three-fold decrease in visits, the National Museum of History, in the capital reports an 80 % drop. Only the largest Bulgarian open air ethnography museum has not seen significant decline in their ticket sales. All of these institutions note a marked drop in the number of foreign visitors and severely limited options for work with school groups, which is a consequence of the ban on group events and group visits. To manage that cafés and restaurants are not allowed to be open some museums have installed self-service vending machines for snacks and beverages.  

      Some examples of successful reopening strategies include: 

      • Increased efforts towards visibility in the social and electronic media: Although closed, museums such as the National Museum of Military History focused on maintaining the public’s interest in heritage and the opportunities the museum offers for communication with it. The number of interviews for national and regional media was increased; social media presence was boosted; the institution’s websites received a makeover, and new online exhibitions, activities and applications were created; in short, the online collections were enriched.   
      • Increased efforts to activate the public: Among the tools of choice during lockdown periods was the organization of competitions encouraging creative expression, the acquisition of knowledge, or the creation of incentives to share family heirlooms and stories. During the holiday season, for example, the National Museum of Military History invited its young friends to improve the holidays of those on the frontlines against the pandemic – our health professionals.
      • Design and installation of new and novel exhibitions: The more ambitious museums utilized the months during which contact with the public was restricted, to renew sections of their exhibitions or to design entirely new ones. Upon reopening after the first lockdown, the National Museum of Military History welcomed citizens with innovative spaces and displays on the history of the Bulgarian Army since 1989. During the second lockdown the conceptual designs for the update of the more emblematic sections of our exhibitions were finalized, with focus on contemporary approaches to initiating dialogue with and on heritage and better integration of the technological advances. Similar steps and intentions had been reported also by smaller museums around the country.  

      National Museum of Military History Bulgaria and Muzeiko, 2nd week of February 

    • Croatia

      Museum staff have adapted their ways of working based on the epidemiological measures, by working in shifts or from home.  While they are allowed to operate physically, Croatian museums continue offering different kinds of online experience – for instance presentations, workshops and exhibitions.   

      Croatian Museums Association and ICOM Croatia, 2nd week of February 

    • Cyprus

      Most museums have reopened, but they struggle financially due to drop of visitors and the lack of school collaborations and events. The drop in visitors is linked to the lack of tourism and the fact that people only are allowed to leave their home twice a day for different reasons which is monitored by a SMS system. Museums struggle to keep the audience engaged with online presence, and such online activities usually do not generate any income and are becoming tiring especially for the elderly.

      Costas and Rita Severis Foundation (Centre of Visual Arts and Research), 2nd week of February  

    • Estonia

      Some museums have reduced opening days, to spare their budget. The reasoning behind reduced hours varies, for instance, some museums in Tallinn have reduced hours since locals mostly visit museums on weekends and there are no tourists. However, these museums usually accept pre-booked school groups during days that they are closed to the general public. The lack of tourism seems to be the main factor for decrease in visitors, though, in addition it may be that people are a bit scared. Elderly people, but also many families try to avoid public places, concurring with government recommendations to avoid public spaces. 

      Estonian Museums Association, 2nd week of February 

    • Finland

      About 1/3 museums are still open but in capital region Helsinki, where most of the museums are located, only 2 museums are open.  State and city owned museums have followed the recommendation of authorities to close, and some private museums (43 % of all Finnish museums) have also been forced to close their doors, because visitors think all museums are closed or due to “fear of the reputational risk”. 

      Finnish Museums Association, 2nd week of February

    • France

      Many museums had prepared to reopen on 15 December since there were strong indications in October that reopening would happen on this date. 

      Since the end of 2020, several museums have made parts of the museum collections accessible to the public by exhibiting a few pieces outside their walls (shopping centers, local public facilities, etc.). They have also offered to bring museum activities to schools and people that usually cannot visit museums - for instance prisoners.

      Most of the museums surveyed by ICOM France say they are ready to reopen with even greater health protocols if necessary, with mechanisms to control the number of visitors (pre-reservation, etc.) and adapt  time limits to accommodate different kinds of audiences (school, family, individuals).  

      ICOM France, 3rd week of February  

    • Italy

      Some museums are providing free entry for a month or so after reopening, to encourage the public to visit. The public is mostly local, as travelling from one region to another is not allowed, if not for health, work-related, or other urgent reason. Many museums have re-opened, but some are delaying re-opening while they wait for the situation to become more stable. 

      Department of Cultural Heritage of the Region Emilia Romagna, 1st week of February 

    • Latvia

      Latvian museums are making the most out the situation by taking the opportunity to create digital content such as interactive exhibitions and virtual museum tours. They also create applications, online events, and educational videos. 

      Latvian Museums Association and the Shamir - Riga Ghetto and Latvian Holocaust Museum, 3rd week of February

    • Malta

      The main challenge that museums experience is the lack of tourists and the public’s willingness to visit. Local publics visiting museums have always been a small percentage. Some museums have lowered the price to address this. Others have reduced opening hours or decided to close for a month or so, particularly in January.  

      Heritage Malta, 2nd week of February  

    • The Netherlands

      When there is a perspective to reopen for a significant period, a large majority of the museums will most likely reopen. 

      Netherlands Museums Association, 1st week of February  

    • Poland

      Most of museum in Poland decided to reopen, but not all of them did so in the very beginning of February – some of them need more time or are still in the process of renovating. Some museums are waiting to reopen due to the costs of reopening, especially considering the lack of tourists and visits from schools (schools are still closed). 

      National Institute for Museums and Public Collections, 1st week of February

    • Romania

      Museums that struggle to cover the costs of the Covid-19 hygiene measures have kept their doors closed. 

      National Network of Romanian Museums, 2nd week of February 

    • Sweden

      Following the government’s recommendation to avoid indoor public areas such as museums, most of them decided to close. Museums have long-since created safe visits but have stayed closed in order to avoid adding to crowds in public transport and because of the above mentioned recommendation. This has come at a dear cost; as some museums rely on income from entrance fees to operate. 

      Swedish Museums Association, 1st week of February 

Interactive map

For a visual overview of the situation for European museums, please visit our map of closures and reopenings. Find information about the current situation for museums as well as an archive of the past year. The map has been created with the help of our members.

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We welcome updates and additions