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Special Collection

COVID-19 and the Museum

Collection launched: 13 Oct 2020

Throughout 2020, the novel coronavirus pandemic has had a profound influence on the ways in which cultural institutions engage with people – prompting extensive re-examination of what education and engagement with the public means and should look like. As a result, museums and cultural centres have engaged with a steep learning curve, as they attempt to fulfil their role within the community while maintaining strict hygiene policies for public safety.

As institutions reopen under new stringent health guidelines, the pandemic’s specific impacts on collections conservation, visitor experiences, exhibition curation using online/physical formats, and hiring and internship policies, among others, are becoming more and more apparent. Substantial changes to the ways in which museums and their staff operate have signalled a paradigm shift in management, access and engagement. Despite these significant challenges, the pandemic has also offered institutes an opportunity to radically change their entrenched policies, many for the better.

The majority of strategies developed by individual institutions to deliver a sense of normalcy and human interaction have been well-received. However, the pandemic is not over and these policies may need to change and adapt several times in the coming months to continue to engage and educate the public. The selection of short reports featured in this collection highlight the successes, failures and learning experiences of several institutes in previous months and aim to serve as a roadmap for the field going forward in this challenging time.