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MGS publishes results of impact survey of COVID-19 on Scottish Museums

Museums Galleries Scotland publishes key findings on impact of COVID-19 on Scottish Museum Sector

Museums Galleries Scotland (MGS) has published a report that highlights the impact of COVID-19 across all parts of the sector from independent to university museums.

Compiled from a survey and feedback from museums and galleries across the country, the report shows that the timing of the lockdown, coming at the lowest point in the financial year for some, has caused acute financial difficulties. Other parts of the sector are bracing for cuts when future budgets are likely to reflect the impact of the situation.

The report highlights:

  • More than half of the independent museums who responded to Museums Galleries Scotland’s survey indicated that they will run out of funds within 6 months and 71% would not survive a year.
  • The Industrial Museums Scotland group are reporting significant financial uncertainty, with 80% of staff furloughed and nearly all museums reporting financial instability before the start of the 2021 tourist season.
  • The anticipated reduction in visitor figures and income post lockdown will be an enormous challenge for those already facing financial difficulties. It is likely that many will not be able to open this year as it will not be financially viable for them to do so.  Some may fail as a result.
  • Local Authorities and ALEOs have indicated that some museums will not open this year, while future budget pressures mean that some of their museums may not reopen at all.
  • University Museums are scenario planning for large budget reductions due to the impact on income from the decline in overseas students.

Lucy Casot, CEO of Museums Galleries Scotland, said:

“We are keenly aware of the impact of this unprecedented situation on our colleagues and our museums they so passionately work within. I have been proud of how the sector has rallied to find solutions and generously shared knowledge and resources to help others in need. I know too how worrying and stressful it has been. While our Urgent Response and Digital Resilience funds are helping to alleviate immediate pressures, we are looking at what additional support is required now and beyond the immediate crises.”

“Our museums and galleries play an important economic, educational and social role that will be valuable as our country plans for the future. We are in regular contact with the Scottish Government and other funding and tourism bodies to highlight the needs and concerns of our sector. It is absolutely vital that museums and galleries keep us informed of their situation to enable us to make the strongest advocacy case.”

Museums Galleries Scotland sent a report to the Culture, Tourism, Europe and External Affairs Committee ahead of their meeting on 20th May 2020 to discuss the impact of COVID-19 on Scotland’s culture and tourism sectors.  Organisations are encouraged to submit information directly to the Committee also as there is strength in numbers.

Get in touch

We continue to gather details on the impact of COVID-19 on Scotland’s museums & galleries to share with the Scottish Government. You can respond to our online survey, email us at or call 0131 550 4100 with details of issues you're currently or anticipate facing. Thank you to all who have been in touch already and do keep us updated on your circumstances.

Contact us for support - you can speak to your regional forum contact or individual staff members

Visit the Advice pages or find out more about our Digital Resilience and Urgent Response Funds



MGS COVID-19 Sector Impact Report

MGS COVID-19 Sector Impact Report (DOCX, 77KB)
Published 26 May 2020