Today — Monday, May 18 — is the annual International Museum Day. The Day has been organized since 1977 by the International Council of Museums to raise awareness about the fact that “Museums are an important means of cultural exchange, enrichment of cultures and development of mutual understanding, cooperation and peace among peoples.”
We are happy to see that some Jewish museums (and other heritage sites) are reopening — cautiously — after being closed for weeks or months because of the Coronavirus emergency. We are trying to keep track of reopenings — click here for our list.
Nonetheless, a report issued last week by the Network of European Museum Organizations (NEMO) on the impact of the COVID-19 crisis on museums reveals grim challenges that will remain in place for the foreseeable future on all museums. It called on local, regional, and national authorities to aid museums and also called for major investment in digital resources and programming.
There are scores of Jewish museums in Europe, and the Association of European Jewish Museums (AEJM), which represents more than 60 Jewish museums, is a member of NEMO. The AEJM has had to cancel its annual conference, scheduled for November in Moscow, due to the pandemic.
The report was the final analysis of nearly 1,000 survey responses collected between March 24 and April 30, 2020 from museums in 48 countries, the majority from Europe. It analyzed financial losses due to the shutdown, the impact on staffing and employment at museums, and the predicted impact of the sharp drop in tourism and changes in behavior of visitors. It also looked at the growth and importance of digital programming and resources.
“There is no fast track back to normal – rather than making a return to normal our goal, we must learn from this crisis in order to effectively respond, mitigate, adapt and integrate,” the report stated. Click to read the report.
To celebrate International Museum Day, here is a gallery of images from Jewish museums in more than a dozen countries around Europe. (Some have reopened or announced plans to reopen, others have not).