Spain’s 255 museums suffered major losses in 2020 as the two main target groups, tourists and school students, stayed away almost all year round due to the pandemic.
A study by the Observatory of Spanish Museums showed, between March and November 2020, the number of tickets sold in the museums decreased by 81% compared to the same period last year.
In January this year, the Ministry of Culture and Sport published the preliminary figures from this survey. Then they reported a decrease of more than 63% compared to 2019 (1,058,918 versus 2,905,337 visitors). Although the percentage eventually had to be adjusted upwards, the decline in the summer months of June, July and August was slightly less at 73%.
Due to the absence of tourists and students, a relatively large number of visitors came from the museums’ own regions. As a result, a number of local museums received even more visitors than usual in the period between June and November last.
Majority of museums resume normal activities
68% of Spanish museums have now resumed normal activities, albeit in an adapted form in most cases. For example, 49% indicate they postponed or cancelled at least 75% of the planned exhibitions. Nevertheless, they are doing better now. 55% indicate they are receiving at least three-quarters of the permitted number of visitors. For 37% of the museums, they are achieving 100% of the permitted admissions. Most of those with a library or archive have opened these facilities for the public again.
Pandemic brought digitisation
According to the research report, the museums worked hard on their digitisation during the last 12 months. They maintained contact with the public via the internet, with social media used for promotional campaigns. Specifically, 68% shared more information on their own website, social media and other platforms. 86% saw their social media followers increase since the pandemic started.
Most permanent workers keep their jobs
Regarding the impact on staffing levels, 78% of museums indicate the pandemic had no impact on permanent staff. More than half (55%) indicate temporary workers also kept their jobs. In 34% the pandemic resulted in the dismissal of temporary staff.