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Virus threatens future of UK museums: Art Fund
Towner Eastbourne. Photo: © Marc Atkins.

LONDON (AFP).- Six out of 10 museums in Britain fear they may have to close because of the coronavirus pandemic, a national charity said Friday, warning venues faced a fight to survive.

The Art Fund based the numbers on a survey of British museums conducted at the end of 2020, but said a third national lockdown which came into force in January was "likely to significantly increase this figure".

Some museums were likely to close their doors permanently because of the pandemic and among those facing closure, small institutions were "likely to suffer the most".

"The pandemic has left us on our knees," said David Green, the director of London's Florence Nightingale Museum.

The museum to one of the founders of modern nursing has already had to cancel its bicentennial celebrations in 2020 because of Covid restrictions.

"But if the situation becomes long-term, we may become completely financially insolvent, meaning it is hard to say if we will be able to reopen our doors in the future."

Britain's cultural institutions have been hit particularly hard by the economic fallout from the pandemic.

In July, the government launched a £1.57-billion ($2.15-billion 1.76-billion-euro) cultural recovery fund which has been praised as a vital lifeline by many, but criticised by others as not going far enough.

On Friday, the Art Fund, the national charity for art, announced it would be making available an additional £750,000 to 23 cultural institutions.

That brings its total support to the sector to £2.25 million since the start of the pandemic last year.

"The money will allow the recipients to adapt and evolve for the challenges posed by the pandemic, from taking their collections online, to making their spaces Covid-safe," it said.

However, the charity warned the funds it had raised had not been enough, as it was overwhelmed with 451 requests from museums which would have amounted to a total of £16.9 million.

© Agence France-Presse

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