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New study raises concern for the nation’s museums

Museums could be in trouble
Museums could be in trouble(WABI)
Published: Aug. 28, 2020 at 4:27 PM EDT
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BANGOR, Maine (WABI) - A new national survey from the American Alliance of Museums suggests that one third of the country’s museums could risk closing permanently by next year.

“Really the most challenging time the institution has had in its 73 year history. There’s no question about that. But right now we have about 150 people per day that come to the institution, which is certainly far less than our historical average which is somewhere in the neighborhood of 400-800 people a day,” said Chris Brownawell, Director of the Farnsworth Art Museum.

“Since we closed in mid-March we’ve lost over $300,000. And the problem museums face is that a lot of the revenue comes from admissions, people walking through the door,” said Niles Parker, Executive Director of the Maine Discovery Museum.

“Clearly our admissions and gift shop sales and things like that are significantly down this season. I think there have been a number of initiatives that have really helped whether it’s the Paid Protection Program loans or now there’s some funding through the state and there’s some federal grants,”Karen Smith, Executive Director of the Penobscot Marine Museum.

“There’s been a lot written, there’s a large piece that has been circulating now for months that talked about potentially a third of museums will not reopen, maybe ever,” said Brownawell.

“How can we continue to meet the needs of our communities? So now we really need to figure what does the next six months look like? What does the next year or two look like for museums,” said Smith.

“For those museums that have reopened they’re seeing about 10% of their pre-pandemic attendance. That’s not sustainable,” said Parker.

“And I think so many people take for granted their local museums, and take comfort in knowing that they’re there but don’t always get engaged,” said Smith.

“You know I think it’s a collective effort of many that will keep institutions moving forward,” said Brownawell.

“Getting the community aware of the situation, the reality of the situation, and if they want us here and hopefully they do, how can people come support the museum in a way that helps us realize those dreams,” said Parker.

“I think it’s a great time to make a donation or become a member. Or think about if there are ways that you can volunteer. And just spread the word about the hard work that museums are doing right now,” said Smith.

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