Museums, Crisis and Covid-19: Vitality and Vulnerabilities

About the project

This research focused on how museums can contribute to community resilience and wellbeing in a time of crisis. Covid-19 has significantly impacted on the museum sector, across the UK and globally.

Interviews with staff and stakeholders across Northern Ireland conducted for the study exposed the vulnerability of museums, their staff, projects, and collections and the challenges faced. They also identified policy interventions (including the Government furlough scheme) and organisational strengths that enabled museums to respond effectively. In addition the research demonstrated the vitality and versatility of museums services showing that they can be places of relevance in a crisis.

Key policy recommendations include:

Museum Practice

  • support further online and in-person engagement with lesser-known collections as well as re-assessment of existing collections.
  • new methods are needed to measure museum impacts and multiple values of museums.
  • Support should be given to partnerships that enable research into the health, economic and environmental impacts of museums.

Community Wellbeing

  • Museums should be supported in their potential as a location for post-pandemic recovery by providing a shared and narrative space.
  • Funding and policy should support building partnerships with health and wellbeing agencies.
  • the sector needs local and national support in fostering new measures that acknowledge the qualities of wellbeing work.

Digital Media

  • digital content development within museums must come alongside increased understanding of digital users and audiences.
  • The development of digital content should be integrated within the values and goals of museums.
  • Support (policy and funding) is needed to deliver digital opportunities alongside in-person museum activities.

Financial resilience

  • Direct funding towards staff training and career development to mitigate against long-term impacts of furlough.
  • Invest in digital skills training.