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'Alarmingly at odds with reality': museum directors attack Creative Industries Federation's report on impact of coronavirus

Report estimates virus is causing 9% drop in revenue, but chairman of the UK National Museum Directors’ Council says 50% loss is more accurate

UK museums such as London's National Gallery had to shut in March, and although they are expected to begin to reopen in July, visitor numbers will be down very considerably © Katherine Hardy

The UK National Museum Directors’ Council (NMDC) has attacked a Creative Industries Federation report on the impact of coronavirus. The report, released on Wednesday, claims that UK museums will lose only 9% of normal revenue because of the current closures and much lower visitor numbers after reopening.

Ian Blatchford, the NMDC chairman and director of the Science Museum Group, describes the finding as “alarmingly at odds with reality”.

The astonishingly low 9% figure for the calendar year 2020 comes from a study commissioned by the federation from Oxford Economics on “The Projected Economic Impact of Covid-19 on the UK Creative Industries”. Oxford Economics is a commercial venture with the university’s business college.

Blatchford tells The Art Newspaper: “Most major museums are suffering 50% reductions in income, and reopening will increase their losses, not mitigate them for the remainder of this year. There will be huge pressure on staffing and the level of services in the coming months.”

UK museums had to shut in March, and although they are expected to begin to reopen in July, visitor numbers will be down very considerably. An analysis by The Art Newspaper suggests that national museums might get around 20% of their normal visitors in the next few months. Although admission to national museums is free, revenue from temporary exhibition tickets and shop and catering income will be slashed. This loss of revenue will inevitably have a very severe impact on museums.