Museums and the Pandemic: Revisiting Purposes and Priorities. A Report of the Museums, Crisis and Covid-19 Project

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The Northern Ireland Museum sector is committed to its societal role, is ambitious and caring, and willing to be agile and responsive. The organisational health of a museum going into the pandemic had a significant impact on how well placed the institution was to address the challenges posed by closure, loss of income, and staffing changes. Good institutional health gives more chance for a museum to map out a future beyond the pandemic and to be able to address further potential challenges. The sector needs to respond to the demand to revisit museum purpose. This is a sector aware of the need for change and an appetite for it to happen.

The change of pace during the pandemic enabled some museums to focus attention on their collections, improving collections care, documentation and digitization. The pandemic offered opportunity to identify themes and priorities for new collecting and to build online awareness of their collections. We need to support museums to foster further online and in-person engagement with lesser-known collections as well as re-assessment of existing collections.

There is now a better understanding of the inter-dependence of in-person and digital engagement, recognising one inspires the other. The sector needs to undertake evaluation to garner greater insight into the characteristics of that digital experience, answering questions about quality, impact and diversity of audience engagement. The sector is asking for support to find new methods to measure museum impacts that reflect the multiple ways people find value in museums.

Museums need to gather up-to-date evidence base of impact on society, health and wellbeing, to match the new needs of the society post Covid-19. Partnerships are garnered that enable research into the health, economic and environmental impacts of museums.
Original languageEnglish
PublisherUlster University
Number of pages41
Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - 30 Jun 2022


  • Museum Purpose
  • Pandemic
  • Covid-19
  • Heritage


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