ICOM appeals to governments: they must allocate funds for museums, or entire nations' culture will be ruined

The International Council Of Museums (ICOM ), the world’s leading body representing museums, recommends that governments of countries affected by the Covid-19 coronavirus pandemic continue to guarantee economic resources to museums even during the health emergency to avoid cultural catastrophe. That’s what ICOM writes in a note, which opens with condolences to all those who “lost loved ones to the virus” and with thanks to health professionals, “who risk their lives fighting the pandemic on the front lines,” and to the international scientific community “working tirelessly to find a cure.”

“Governments around the world,” ICOM writes, “have taken the necessary measures to stop the circulation of the virus, closing schools and public spaces, and decreeing curfews. Two billion people have been confined to their homes, and the number continues to grow. The threat is not only to health, but also to livelihood. As factories and stores are closed, and travel is prohibited, the global economy is on the brink of a deep recession.” A recession that threatens to sink culture: “the cultural sector, hard hit by the closure of museums, libraries, cinemas, and theaters, will face losses that could bring permanent ruin to entire communities and nations.”

“We understand that the priority is to ensure the health and economic security of the affected populations,” says ICOM, which, however, also expresses concern “about the future of museums and the priceless cultural heritage they preserve, an essential part of the identity of peoples and nations and a vital element for communities. As repositories of scientific knowledge accumulated over centuries, their role is critical to the future of humanity, especially in times of uncertainty such as we are experiencing today.”

So there is serious concern for museums, which “are already underfunded in many places, and for which today’s temporary closure risks turning into a permanent closure tomorrow. In Italy, the cultural sector will lose three billion euros in the next six months, in Spanga 980 million euros in April alone. The American Alliance of Museums (AAM) estimates that one-third of museums in the United States will not reopen. Thousands of professionals working in museums, especially the self-employed and precarious, are about to lose their livelihood, or have already lost it.”

ICOM, as a representative of the international museum community, therefore appeals to politicians and decision-makers “to urgently allocate funds to save museums and their professionals so that they can survive closures and continue their fundamental mission of public service for generations to come. The process of curing our societies after the Covid-19 crisis will be long and complex. Museums, as unparalleled places of gathering and learning for all, will have a role to play in repairing and strengthening the social fabric of affected communities. We will work with national and regional governments, as well as with our institutional partners and other international organizations to secure the future of museums.”

Image: Milan, Brera Art Gallery

ICOM appeals to governments: they must allocate funds for museums, or entire nations' culture will be ruined
ICOM appeals to governments: they must allocate funds for museums, or entire nations' culture will be ruined

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