Local museums need help bouncing back from pandemic

Posted at 4:17 PM, Jan 05, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-05 19:15:07-05

LEXINGTON, Ky. (LEX 18) — The American Alliance of Museums completed a survey of 850 museums last year, and it showed that COVID-19 has been relentless to museums across the country.

Here is a sample of their findings:

  • Nearly 30% of museums in the United States remain closed due to the pandemic.
  • Over half (52%) of museums have six months or less of operating reserves; 82% have twelve months or less of operating reserves.
  • Over half (53%) of responding museums have had to furlough or lay off staff.
  • On average, each respondent has lost $850k in revenue due to the pandemic so far this year.
  • Museums are operating at, on average, 35% of their capacity–an attendance reduction that is unsustainable long-term.

A few local museums tell LEX 18 that they have found some of these items to be true for them as well.

For example, a trustee with the Aviation Museum of Kentucky said revenue is down by about 50% compared to years past and they're operating at about 35-50% capacity.

However, trustee Jerry Landreth said the number of visitors won't have a dramatic effect on the museum's future.

"It's not going to kill us in the long-term scheme of us opening and closing the museum," he said.

He added that the museum will survive the pandemic because it's small, run by volunteers, and has a devoted donor base, giving 20 percent more last year than in years past.

To donate to the museum, visit here.

To view hours of operation, visit here.

Henry Clay Estate donors have also gone 'above and beyond', helping to offset the loss in revenue, which is down by about 70%, according to business manager, Kate Heil.

Heil said the museum isn't at risk of permanently closing, but they look carefully at that every quarter.

She added that it hasn't had to lay off or furlough any staff.

Henry Clay is closed this month, as it always is. In February, it will be open for private tours, including 'Traces: Slavery at Ashland'. You must call to book a tour. You can also donate here.

While these museums have managed to stay open, with the exception of closing in March as ordered by Governor Andy Beshear, some have had to close.

The Transylvania University Monroe Moosnick Medical and Science Museum is temporarily closed due to the pandemic.

Its website says, "In response to COVID-19, all tours are canceled until further notice."

Other museums, like the Mary Todd Lincoln House and the Waveland State Historic Site, are currently closed to the public. However, their closures are not caused by the pandemic, as they are closed during the winter months every year.