NEMO has kept track of museum closures and reopenings since the initial lockdowns in the spring of 2020. The infection waves and the countries’ different responses to them are reflected in the archive of each country. Some countries only closed museums in the first wave, others have shut the doors to cultural institutions on multiple occasions. The Swedish government never ordered museums to close, but due to recommendations to avoid public places such as museums several museums decided to keep close in the beginning of 2021.
At the end of 2021 and the beginning of 2022, museums in five countries were ordered to close in connection to lockdowns.
- The Netherlands (19 December – 26 January)
- Denmark (19 December – 16 January)
- Austria (22 November – 11 December)
- Slovakia (29 November – 10 December)
- Latvia (20 October – 15 November)
Officially, museums in Bulgaria must remain closed until 31 March 2022 by orders issued on 26 November 2021 by the Bulgarian Ministry of Health. However, if museums comply with the following conditions, they may keep open:
- All staff members are vaccinated, recovered from Covid-19 or have a valid negative test, and
- The museum only admits visitors who are vaccinated, recovered from Covid-19 or have a valid negative test.
The Bulgarian Museums Association has reported that, to their knowledge, all museums are open since they comply with the conditions.
The Dutch and Danish Museums Associations have questioned the respective governments’ priorities in the recent lockdowns. In Denmark, bars could stay open, but museums had to close. In The Netherlands big commercial establishments, such as IKEA, were allowed to stay open. Both museums associations argued that museums have proven to deliver safe visits during the pandemic and that museums contribute to wellbeing and mental health of the visitors and society as a whole.
Although museums in the majority of European countries have been able to stay open during the Omicron wave, it has still had a huge impact on museums across Europe. For instance, the UK Museums Association has reported that some museums are struggling to keep open due to low visitor numbers and cancelled events.