On June 8, 2020, the American Alliance of Museums (AAM) launched a survey designed to capture a snapshot of the state of US museums during the initial wave of the COVID-19 pandemic. By the time the survey closed on June 30, directors of 760 museums of all types and sizes had reported on their plans for reopening, the projected financial impact of the pandemic, and the services they were providing to their communities.
The sample of 760 museums provides a confidence level of 95 percent with a confidence interval of 3.15 percent for the population of AAM member museums. The data filters (by museum type, geographic region, and museum operating expenses) have smaller numbers and therefore higher margins of error. The research was conducted by New Hampshire-based Dynamic Benchmarking at no charge to the museum field.
The survey results document extreme financial distress in the museum field. One-third (33%) of respondents were not confident they would be able to survive 16 months without additional financial relief, and 16 percent felt their organization was at significant risk of permanent closure. The vast majority (87%) of museums have only 12 months or less of financial operating reserves remaining, with 56% having less than six months left to cover operations. Forty-four percent had furloughed or laid off some portion of their staff, and 41 percent anticipated reopening with reduced staff.
During the pandemic, 75% of museums stepped into their pivotal role as educators providing virtual educational programs, experiences, and curricula to students, parents, and teachers. However, two-thirds (64%) of directors predicted cuts in education, programming or other public services due to significant budget cuts.
Download the findings from the National Survey of COVID-19 Impact on United States Museums.