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 open since 8 February.

      Educational programmes have also been allowed since the 8th but under strict hygiene measures.

      Austrian Museums Association, 4th week of June

    • Belgium

      Museum could reopen on 1 December 2020 after having to close 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

      Most museums in Croatia are open. However, museums in Zagreb and Petrinja are still closed due to the damages caused by the catastrophic earthquakes.

      Croatian Museums Association, 4th week of June

    • 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 and galleries are open since 10 May 2021.

      Czech Association of Museums and Galleries, 4th week of June

    • Denmark

      Museums are open since 21 April 2021. Visitors need to show a corona passport, which can either be a negative Covid-19 test, proof of full vaccination or recovery from Covid-19.

      Since 8 February 2021, young school children (age 7-10) could take part in educational activities since museums are considered a part of their educational facilities. 

      Association of Danish Museums, 4th week of June

    • Estonia

      After being closed from 3 March - 2 May 2021, museums in Estonia were allowed to open again on 3 May 2021.

      Estonian Museums Association, 1st week of May 

    • Finland

      Most museums in Finland are open. A few museums require pre-booking.

      Finnish Museums Association, 4th week of June

    • France

      Museum reopened on 19 May 2021.

      The reopening of museums will be subject to the local health situation and unless the situation worsens, in three successive and progressive phases:

      • Phase 1 (from 19 May if the local health situation allows): with a reduced capacity or 8 m2 per visitor (see below) and the respect of the curfew at 21h
      • Phase 2 (from 9 June if the local health situation permits): with a gauge of 4 m2 per visitor (see below) and respect for the 11pm curfew.
      • Phase 3 (from 30 June if the local health situation permits): reopening without gauge limitation, but with the maintenance of distancing and barrier gestures.
      • During all these phases, the barrier gestures (see below) and a physical distance of at least 1 metre between each person wearing a mask must be maintained.

      The start of each phase will be linked to the local health situation. The local incidence rate will be particularly monitored by the authorities. If the rate exceeds 400 infections per 100,000 inhabitants, if there is a sudden increase or if hospitals are saturated, openings or transitions from one phase to another may not be authorised.

      ICOM France, 1st week of June

    • Germany

      All regions in Germany allow museums to be open.

      German Museums Association, 1st week of June

    • Greece

      Museums in Greece are open since 14 May 2021. Archaeological sites and open spaces have been allowed to be open since March 2021.

      Visitor have to adhere to hygiene measures, wear masks and keep distance. Visitors have to adhere to hygiene measures, wear masks and keep distance.

      National Museum of Contemporary Art, Athens (EMST), 4th week of June

    • Hungary

      During May and June 2021, museums in Hungary started to re-open gradually and now all museums welcome visitors again.

      The Pulszky Society - Hungarian Museums Association, 4th week of June

    • Iceland

      Most museum reopened in the end of November 2020 after having to close in September the same year.

      Icelandic Museums Association, 4th week of June

    • Ireland

      Museums started reopening in the Republic of Ireland from 10 May 2021. In Northern Ireland museums started to open from 24 May.

      Irish Museum Association, 4th week of June

    • Italy

      As of 21 June 2021, all of the museums in Italy are allowed to be open.

      In Italy, museums may open if they are located in yellow zones (low risk) in a colour scale that also includes white (very low risk), orange (medium risk) and red (high risk). At the moment all zones are white.

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

    • Luxembourg

      Every museum in Luxembourg reopened since 11 January 2021.

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

    • Latvia

      Latvian museums were allowed to reopen on 2 June 2021.

      Starting from June 15, museums may accept tour groups and lead classes with the condition that the museum specialist and the visitors have a Covid-19 certificate.

      Latvian Museums Association, 4th week of June

    • Lithuania

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

      Lithuanian Museums Association, 3rd week of March

    • Malta

      Museums in Malta are now regularly open. National museums run by Heritage Malta have also taken the opportunity to adjust time schedules and visiting hours. The others are open as per usual pre-COVID19 opening hours. Museums are also following general health measures and restrictions as imposed from time to time by the health authorities. This refers to visiting hours but also to any special events such as exhibition openings and outreach events. Some restrictions still apply.   

      Tourism is likely to pick up again during the summer which makes up the majority of visitors to museums in Malta.

      Heritage Malta, last week of June

    • The Netherlands

      Museums were allowed to reopen again on 5 June 2021. Since June 26th, the general Covid-19 restrictions have been further eased. Museums and shops, and other locations where people are moving around, may admit one visitor per five square metres.

      Netherlands Museums Association, 1st week of July

    • Norway

      Most museums across Norway opened in May-June 2020. During local Covid-19 increases, museums in several places were closed for shorter or longer periods during the Autumn. Museums in Oslo were closed in November 2020. In the end of May 2021 museums in Oslo were finally allowed to reopen. Museums in the surrounding Oslo area have been closed during the majority of this period as well, often connected to local increase of infections.

      There are still some local temporary closures of museums in connection to local increase of Covid-19 infections.

      Norwegian Museums Association, 4th week of June

       

    • Poland

      All museums in Poland have been open to the public since 4 May 2021.

      National Institute for Museums and Public Collections, 4th week of June

    • 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 open since the beginning of May. They have to follow the "Covid automat" which for instance determines the number of museum visitors and the number of event participants. Depending on the COVID automat colour classifications/ levels of a region, the automat system indicates to which regulations shops, institutions and museums etc. must adhere.

      Union of Museums in Slovakia, 4th week of June

    • Slovenia

      As of 6 February, all museums could reopen. Most museums are open with no restriction but with safety measures. School and kindergarten groups are returning to the museums, but visits by the public and tourists is still low.

      Slovenian Museums Association, 1st week of June

    • Spain

      Museums are open and most of them have been open since June 2020.

      In general, group visits are allowed up to a maximum of 15 people, including the guide.

      Spanish Association of Cultural Heritage Managers, 4th week of June

    • Sweden

      Most museums are open but with some limitations. For instance, 1 person per 10 m2 indoors and 1 person per 20 m2 outdoors. More flexibility will be allowed from 1 of July if the state of infection status allows. 

      Swedish Museums Association, 1st week of June

    • Switzerland

      Swiss museums were allowed to reopen from 1 March 2021.

      During the lockdown, school children under the age of 16 were 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 20 were allowed to visit museums in groups. Since mid-April, guided tours are again allowed for children and adults. Since the end of June, all guided tours and events are allowed.

      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, last week of June

    • The United Kingdom

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

      Museums in England and Wales started to open from 17 May 2021.

      Museums in Northern Ireland could open again starting from 24 May.

      UK Museums Association, 4th week of June

  • Guidelines & safety measures
    • Austria

      Visitors must wear a FFP2 mask during the visit and only one visitor per 10 m2 is allowed. Hygiene posters and recommendations are available from the Austrian Museums Association.

      Austrian Museums Association, 4th week of June

    • Belgium

      Capacity & Guided Tours

      • From 9 June: provided that the distance of 1.5m between each group of people is respected, the limit of one visitor per 10m2 no longer applies.
      • From 9 June onwards: adult groups of up to 50 people will be allowed to join organised activities, including guided tours.
      • Events organised in the museums will have to be submitted to the authority of the local governments.

      External events:

      • Public admitted at the moment: 50 people.
      • Public admitted from 9 June: up to 400 people (subject to a positive evolution of the epidemic).
      • Public admitted from 1 July: up to 2500 people (subject to positive evolution of the epidemic).

      Indoor events:

      • Public admitted from 9 June: up to 200 people seated (subject to a positive evolution of the epidemic) with an occupancy rate of 75% of the total capacity of the venue concerned. The rules: all seated, with mask, and physical distance.
      • Public admitted from 1 July: up to 2,000 seated persons (subject to a positive evolution of the epidemic) with an occupancy rate of 80% of the total capacity of the venue concerned. The rules: all seated, with mask, and physical distance.

      Outdoor and indoor catering in museums:

      • Always 1.5 m from the chair of someone sitting at another table.
      • Since 27 June: 8 people are allowed per table (in museums and in general)

      Telework/ home office

      • Return to face-to-face work one day per week per worker, with a maximum of 20% of total staff, and 5 persons for institutions with less than 10 workers.
      • From 1 July, telework will be recommended but no longer mandatory.

      ICOM Belgium Wallonia-Brussels, 1st week of July

    • 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  

    • Czechia

      Visitors have to follow the regulations below to visit museums, which have been open since 10 May 2021.

      • Wear nano-mask or FFP2 masks
      • Regularly clean hands with disinfectant
      • Keep 2 meters distance unless from the same household

      Same conditions apply for visiting events, such as guided tours. These visitors also have to present either a recent negative Covid-19 test, proof of vaccination or recovery from Covid-19. It is not possible to consume food and drinks during events.

      On 26 June, the visitor capacity will be changed from 15m2 to 10 m2 of indoor space for 1 person.

      Czech Association of Museums and Galleries, 4th week of June

    • Denmark

      Visitors need to show a corona passport, which can either be a negative Covid-19 test, proof of full vaccination or recovery from Covid-19. Museums are open since 21 April 2021.

      Association of Danish Museums, 4th week of June

    • 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 

    • France

      Museum reopened on 19 May 2021.

      The health protocols put in place since the May 2020 lockdown are, with some updates, still in effect:

      • Masks are mandatory for everyone aged 11 and older and strongly recommended for children aged 6 and older
      • Museums need to provide alcogel
      • Social distancing has to be respected
      • Reservations are recommended
      • The flow of movement should be monitored

      These protocols are also based on recommendations concerning user information, the implementation of a cleaning/disinfection plan for spaces and equipment as well as measures for ventilation of spaces.

      ICOM France, 1st week of June

    • Hungary

      All museums are open since a gradual re-opening that started in May. Visitors are welcome when following these regulations:

      • Entry is allowed only with vaccination card
      • Wearing face masks is obligatory
      • Increased disinfection and cleaning is recommended
      • The limited number of visitors is regulated by each museum itself (according to the size of the exhibition halls)
      • Indoor events and community activities are allowed with limited number of participants
      • Open-air museums and outdoor events can be visited without visitor limitations

      The Pulszky Society - Hungarian Museums Association, 4th week of June

    • Iceland

      On 26 June 2021, Iceland lifted all Covid-19 restrictions which also means that museums can operate without having to take any of the previous pandemic regulations into account.

      Icelandic Museums Association, 4th week of June

    • Ireland

      In preparation for future reopening, the Irish Museums Association published in the beginning of 2021 an 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 2020 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

      Museums can reopen from 5 June and are expected to follow certain guidelines, such as: 

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

      Netherlands Museums Association, 1st week of June  

    • Norway

      Most museums are open since 10 May 2021. They still have to follow some restrictions for events. For instance, in Oslo there must be 4 m2 per visitor.

      The Norwegian Museums Association has provided guidelines on the gradual reopening of museums. 

      Norwegian Museums Association, 4th week of June

    • 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.

      Museums have to follow the sanitary regime. There is audience limit – 1 person per 10 m2.

      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, 4th week of June

    • 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 15 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  

    • Sweden

      Most museums are open but with some limitations. For instance, 1 person per 10 m2 indoors and 1 person per 20 m2 outdoors. More flexibility will be allowed from 1 of July if the state of infection status allows. 

      Swedish Museums Association, 1st week of June

    • Switzerland

      Since the first reopening of the museums in the spring of 2020, the museums have to comply with a "protection concept" developed on the basis of the Swiss Federal regulation. This concept has evolved over time and the rules of conduct and hygiene. The following measures are described in particular:

      • Rules for events and guided tours
      • Social distancing
      • Wearing a mask
      • Hygiene rules
      • Maximum number of visitors allowed

      Currently, only the rules of distancing and wearing masks are in force, following recent relaxations of the regulations.

      More information: https://www.museums.ch/covid-19/schutzkonzept/

      Swiss Museums Association, last week of June

    • 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

      Wolfgang Muchitsch, Austrian Museums Association, has issued a statement about the situation for museums during the pandemic. The English translation follows below.

      “Museums are important places for (cultural) public life. But even without the prevailing pandemic, there are many tasks to be solved for museums and its stakeholders. Much became more apparent as a result of the corona crisis, other things should not be lost sight of.

      Education is the heartbeat of the museum: What distinguishes museums from other institutions is the existence of a collection. Over 100 million objects are stored in the depots of almost 800 Austrian museums. In exhibitions and events, the objects serve as information carriers and mediators of stories. The heartbeat of the museum, however, is communication. It is only then that the collection is filled with life. It is obvious that this occupational group was currently particularly at risk due to the restrictions in force. In addition, there are often precarious employment relationships. In the long term, however, museums must increasingly appreciate the value of mediation, both institutionally and externally, and we must not attach it to purely quantitative measures.

      New value systems. How overall it is now finally time and opportunity to free the museum as an institution from the economic clutches of profitability to the extent that the quality of the museum as an educational and research institution cannot (exclusively) be determined by the number of visitors. It is more important to see the impact of a museum visit and its long-term value than reaching maximum visitor limits, which will not be attainable in the near future anyway, since it can be assumed that cultural tourism will not recover for a longer period of time.

      It is worth taking a look at regional museums that have always focused on the local audience and are therefore truly regional local suppliers.

      #museumsforfuture: Then it is also important to turn to a different institutional "lifestyle" in accordance with the #museumsforfuture movement. Concentration on the own collection, inviting the (local) public to a civically relevant and open place, sustainability as an important and lived topic in exhibitions, educational programs and in the institution itself, revealing the origin of the objects in the sense of a transparent museum work and the end of a hierarchical organisation, followed by a museum of, by and for all - this and much more must shape our museum work in the coming years.

      The pandemic has accelerated the rethinking, we have to see that we can find an adequate pace in implementation and that we do not (anymore) lose sight of these important tasks.”

      Austrian Museums Association, 4th week of June

       

    • Belgium

      Altough most museusm are open there is a need to share the knowledge and useful experiences gained over the past few months beyond the walls of the institutions.

      Based on this philosophy, a lot of work has been done in the past period on a 'sector guide for museums' that maps out the COVID measures and provides the necessary guidelines and tips. The guide highlights the applicable measures, is conceived as a dynamic document and will be kept up-to-date whenever necessary.

      The sector guide, or Vademecum with recommendations for the basic operation of museums during the Covid19 pandemic, includes guidelines, tips and examples specifically developed for the sector, which encompass all cultural heritage operation and delve deeper into the public services that museums provide on the basis of their five basic functions: presenting and guiding, recognising and collecting, conserving and safeguarding, researching and participating.

      ICOM Belgium Flanders, 1st week of June

    • 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 Finnish government has announced that cultural funding will be cut by about 6% from 2023 onwards. This is due to the effects of covid-19 and structural changes in the financial system. Much of the cultural funding has come from lottery funds, which are declining due to Covid-19, but also in the long run for several reasons. 

      Finnish Museums Association, 1st week of June

    • France

      ICOM France ran a survey and created an interactive map of museum openings.

      ICOM France and AMCSTI - Association of Museums and Centres for the Development of Scientific, Technical and Industrial Culture carried out a consultation with its institutional members on the reopenings between 19 May and 15 June. Amongst others, the report shows that 87% of the responding museums had reopened.

      ICOM France, 4th week of June

    • 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

      Museums were allowed to reopen from 5 June and the government recently announced a new culture specific support package worth 100 million euro for the national level, and 36,5 million for culture on the regional and local level. It is only available in for Q3 2021 since there is a shift of government.

      The Netherlands Museums Association (NMA) is happy with the additional support package. However, they are stressing that visitors are expected to return slowly to museums – based on the experiences of previous crises – and in restricted numbers due to the corona protocol, while high costs continue to impact the business model of museums and museums have been forced to cut employees both with definite and indefinite contracts. Therefore, the NMA asks for a support package that will last until the end of the year. The NMA calls on the government to create a national recovery plan to invest in the cultural sector, allowing innovation and transformation for museums in areas of digitisation, sustainability and collection care and research. Museums struggle with getting funding from public and private funds for exhibitions.

      Netherlands Museums Association, 1st week of June

    • 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 to reopen museums was published in the Government Order from 6th May 2021 on the establishment of certain restrictions, orders and prohibitions in connection with the occurrence of an epidemic. Reopening of museums was a part of the plan of gradual reopening of different field of public activity. https://dziennikustaw.gov.pl/D2021000086101.pdf (in Polish).

      Decision of time and scope of museum reopening was given to the director of each museum. Museums gradually reopened from 6 May until the middle of May.

      National Institute for Museums and Public Collections, 4th week of June

    • 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 

    • Switzerland

      The Swiss Museums Association (VMS) took a stand when there was talk of closing all museums nationwide by the end of 2020. The arguments were:

      • Visits to the museum do not cause massive gatherings of people. Even if the exhibitions are well-attended, visits are spread out over the day. In addition, limiting the number of people in the exhibition rooms is part of the protection concepts. Some museums have implemented online ticketing systems and visitor movement can be controlled in an additional way. The VMS protection concept, which is available to all museums in Switzerland and is constantly updated, corresponds in all respects to the requirements of the Confederation.
      • No country has a higher density of museums than Switzerland. There are many local museums in every region that are accessible without too much travel. In this way, museums can make an important contribution to the well-being of the population, which is urgently needed, especially in times of crisis, while ensuring that protective measures are taken.

      In addition to this position, the VMS has also been advocating for museums during the health crisis. All information on these activities can be found here: https://www.museums.ch/covid-19/schutzkonzept/

      Swiss Museums Association, last week of June

    • 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

      All in all, the museums have made ends meet. The state subsidies have compensated for the losses well.

      Austrian Museums Association, 4th week of June

    • 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 

    • 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  

    • Ireland

      Most museums have reopened while a very small number have indicated that they will wait until July, which is at the height of the summer season.

      Irish Museum Association, 4th week of June

    • Italy

      Some museums provided free entry for a month or so after reopening, to encourage the public to visit. 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

      The museums evaluate the situation to decide to open or not, but so far almost all Latvian museums have opened after it was allowed again on 2 June.

      Latvian Museums Association, 4th week of June

    • 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

      Although museums reopened on 5 June, the Netherlands Museums Association expect visitors to slowly return to the museums – based on the experiences of previous crises – and in restricted numbers due to the corona protocol.

      Netherlands Museums Association, 1st week of June

    • Poland

      All museum in Poland have decided to reopen.

      National Institute for Museums and Public Collections, 4th week of June

    • 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 

    • 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. 

      Slovenian Museums Association, 1st week of February 

    • Sweden

      The economic situation for Swedish museums is tough. The Ministry of Culture has provided recurring support for culture, but more needs to be done. The Ministry of Culture has also started an investigation that will be completed in September, which will focus on restarting the cultural life post-pandemic. 

      On a positive note, over the last year, museums have noticed an increase in the digital demand. In 2020, 216 million digital visits were recorded at the country's museums.

      Swedish Museums Association, 1st week of June

    • Switzerland

      As soon as it was possible to do so, most Swiss museums reopened in March 2021. They have implemented protective measures for the public and for staff. Some museums could not reopen because they are run by senior volunteers. As these people belong to the risk group, they could not go to work.

      Other museums also have a limited annual opening (e.g. a summer opening) and were therefore less or not at all affected by the closures.

      Only 15% of Swiss museums report an increase of visitors (compared to a normal year). This is mainly due to the decrease in tourism, the fear of going to public places and the restrictions imposed. This drop in attendance has had an impact on the museums' finances. The museums happy to have been able to welcome children and school groups during the closures.

      Swiss Museums Association, last week of June

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.

Visit the map

We welcome updates and additions