"Like other Indian museums, we have been badly affected by the loss of revenue"
"Like other Indian museums, we have been badly affected by the loss of revenue, leading to cuts in salaries, but fortunately no staff losses."
Tasneem Mehta, CIMAM member, and Managing Trustee & Honorary Director, Dr. Bhau Daji Lad Museum, Mumbai, India.
- Museums in Mumbai and in India have been clubbed together with public spaces and there has been no discussion regarding their reopening. As public museums in India receive a high footfall, the authorities are concerned that till there has been a significant decline in COVID-19 numbers, museums and public spaces are unlikely to open soon.
- Like other Indian museums, we have been badly affected by the loss of revenue, leading to cuts in salaries, but fortunately no staff losses. However, we have used the time for research and to build our online audiences. We are in the process of a major review and upgrade of our online presence. We work three days a week for conservation and maintenance purposes.
- There have been no calls in India to open museums as most are government controlled. Nor has the press been proactive as there is a nervousness about the disease. At present, a partial lockdown is in operation, with trains, which are the lifeline of Mumbai, only open to government employees and essential workers. At present schools are closed.
- We have had no interaction with the government as museums are not viewed as essential community institutions and therefore not considered a priority.
Why should museums remain open and operational?
In 2020, museums and collections all over the world were deeply affected by the COVID-19 pandemic; consequently, many public-facing institutions were required to take a position on their operations. The Museum Watch Committee saw the extent to which museums played a specific role in the discussions on COVID-related lockdown measures within wider fields such as arts and culture, entertainment, and leisure.
To monitor the roles and positions of institutions internationally, the Museum Watch Committee asked CIMAM members to identify the main arguments used worldwide to keep museums open and operational in these difficult times. It launched this project in November 2020.
This call to action activated contemporary art professionals worldwide, spanning Argentina, Australia, Belgium, India, Italy, Peru, Russia, Singapore, Spain, and the United States. They presented their main arguments to keep their museums open or reopen them soon and shared their experiences from the pandemic.