The survival of museums in the new normal after the global COVID-19 pandemic was tackled by Grupo Kalinangan’s last Pamana Talks session for the National Heritage Month on May 30, 2020.

Dr. Jobers Bersales, Head of the National Committee on Museums (NCOM) of the National Commission for Culture and the Arts, presented data collected from a survey among 133 private and government-run museums all over the country.

The survey was initiated by NCOM to take stock of the situations and capacities of Philippine museums amidst restrictions in place due to the pandemic. The results of the survey are expected to help NCOM come up with solutions and strategies for museums to adapt to the new normal.

Dr. Bersales explained that most museums have suffered budget cuts and income losses during the pandemic, due mainly to loss of visitors. For museums run by the national or local governments, most of their budget were realigned to COVID-19 response and relief efforts.

Around 25% of the museums that took the survey indicated that they have no online presence, whether through a website or social media channels. Meanwhile, only a few of these museums had been and are currently providing online services, such as virtual tours and online exhibitions.

Dr. Bersales also bared that at least four respondents indicated that they may not be able to resume operations after the pandemic.

Aside from the general health protocols, such as wearing facemasks, maintaining social distancing, frequent hand-washing, and constant disinfecting of facilities, Dr. Bersales enumerated additional protocols that museums may follow in the new normal, as suggested by the International Council of Museums (ICOM).

These additional protocols include initiating an online or digital booking and ticketing system; dedicating opening hours for certain groups (e.g., senior citizens); marking position paths and separating entrances from exits; and developing protocols for cleaning and conservation of museum collections.

Aside from these protocols from ICOM, Dr. Bersales emphasized that museums possibly need to turn their services and collections digital or online. He also stressed that the cultural sector need the support of the community and philanthropists during this time of crisis.

To view the recording of this Pamana Talks session, click here.