The last fourteen months have been difficult for us all, as the Covid-19 pandemic has changed the way we see the world and the way in which we live, share, and experience life together. But while 2020 and 2021 have been in many ways challenging and traumatic, they have also been a time for innovation, collaboration, and new ideas.
This is particularly true in the museum sector, which has struggled against a wall of challenges related to the pandemic. According to a 2021 UNESCO report, nearly 90% of museums worldwide faced temporary closures in 2020, and approximately 43% of museums have closed temporarily in the first quarter of 2021. In-person attendance has dropped an average of 70% since 2019, and national museums have faced revenue losses between an average of 40% and 60%.
Yet there is still hope. For one thing, vaccination in Canada and across the globe is making steady progress. While it is not likely that we will see international travellers flooding across the border anytime soon, Canadians themselves are eager to get out and explore their own backyards. With the summer approaching and vaccines continuing to go into arms, there is hope that museums will soon be able to safely and responsibly reintroduce greater numbers of visitors into their physical spaces.
The pandemic has also spurred innovation within the museum industry, especially when it comes to the development of digital content. According to a recent survey by the International Council of Museums (ICOM), museums’ participation in the creation of digital content has increased during the pandemic. Almost 50% of surveyed museums across the globe increased their participation in digital content, including social media, livestreaming events and online educational programmes, during the course of 2020.
The exponential growth which On This Spot is currently experiencing is a testament to this new dedication to the creation of accessible digital museum content. Every day, we are working towards expanding our content across the country, creating new historical tours in both small towns and larger cities.
One of the key difficulties highlighted in both the UNESCO and ICOM pandemic-related reports is the challenge museums face in creating their own digital content. The reports found that many museums lack the resources to make this technological transition. This is where On This Spot comes in. We allow museum professionals to continue focusing on other important areas of preservation and historical education, while we build historical digital content for them. With a team of not only historical experts but technological wizards, our app can help fill this gap in the creation of digital content.
With the end of the pandemic in sight and the creation and accessibility of digital content increasing, museums are not only poised to regain the losses the pandemic has caused, but claim new avenues of growth and innovation. With society continuing to change and to embrace the digital era more and more every day, digital content is a way to bring museums into the future, even after the pandemic has finally passed.
“Museums Around the World in the Face of COVID-19.” United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), 2021. URL: https://unesdoc.unesco.org/ark:/48223/pf0000376729_eng.
“Museums, Museum Professionals and COVID-19: Follow-up Survey.” International Council of Museums (ICOM), 2020. URL: https://icom.museum/wp-content/uploads/2020/11/FINAL-EN_Follow-up-survey.pdf.