For many museums, necessary lockdown measures have interrupted the ongoing exhibition events and operations. Also internally, daily workflows for museums are changing as a result of COVID-19. We recently discussed the current environment with our clients, to better understand how they are adapting.

Along with everyone else, museums and collections have been challenged by lockdown restrictions and closings in recent months. COVID-19 and its impact on the public exhibition business has occurred very suddenly. In the course of the recent temporary closings, exhibitions have shifted online. Existing online offers are being further developed and expanded to meet their audience where they are, online. Complementing the originally planned events, museums are working hard to create new content to be virtually experienced by guests and marketed by organizers. Museums are accelerating their digitization projects and online initiatives to meet a changed demand after COVID-19.

Strengthen digital reach

Many museums have postponed exhibitions until after COVID-19. While organizers hope that public traffic will resume soon, and are rethinking how best to welcome the public safely in their museums and exhibition rooms. Following new guidelines, the museums have to contend with the unknown: How will new guidelines change the visitor behavior? Museums will likely continue to develop digital platforms and services in the future to complement analog exhibition events. What will these digital offers look like? And what digital infrastructure will be required to support new initiatives?

Working remotely

In many places, the lockdown measures also lead to adjustments in internal processes. Museum employees work from home. Remote access to analog and digital resources is therefore essential. Web-based software such as MuseumPlus and ArtPlus enable internal work around the clock and with remote access from different locations.

We spoke to three of our clients to better understand: The changes they have seen in the past few weeks. How they are preparing for the future, after COVID-19.

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MART, Italy

The MART has three locations in Italy. These include: in Rovereto, the main museum and the House of Futuristic Art (Depero Casa d'Arte Futurista Depero). In Trento, there is the city gallery (Galleria Civica). The permanent museum collection contains more than 15,000 artworks, including paintings, drawings, engravings, and sculptures.

What is your current situation?

Our museum is open again since the beginning of June at all three locations. Previously we had closed the public service since March. During this time our employees worked from home. They had remote access to all resources of the museum. Some important employees took turns in being on site. They took care of the building and the artworks.

What did you prepare during the closing time?

During the closing time, we prepared to reopen the museum as soon as possible, taking all necessary measures to ensure the safety of our guests and staff. What role did digital workflows play in your preparations? At the time when most employees worked from home, digital resources were essential. Thanks to the remote access to our work computers, a wide choice of tools for online meetings and our web-based collection and exhibition management software, we were able to establish an effective workflow also from home.

Do you already feel a change in the behavior of your guests?

People spend more time using social networks. They are responding enthusiastically to new digital projects. When the museum reopens, we will be able to evaluate our audience behavior.

Museum of Art Lucerne, Switzerland

With international exhibitions, the Museum of Art Lucerne positions itself among the Swiss art museums. Swiss art forms the bulk of the museum's collection. This includes paintings from the Baroque period to works by contemporary Swiss artists. The museum pays particular attention to maintaining the online catalogue of the collection.

What is the current situation of your museum?

Our museum has been open to the public again since May. Previously, we had been closed the public service since mid-March.

What are you preparing for in the next months?

From the upcoming exhibitions in August 2020 our exhibition operations will run as planned. Exhibitions that should have been opened between February and August 2020 have been postponed until next year.

How will your public service change after COVID-19?

Not at all. We are currently working on the development of a digital tour to deepen knowledge about individual exhibitions. But that was already in our planning before COVID-19. We also offer new audio guides for our collection presentation. We have put this offer online shortly before the COVID-19 lockdown.

Did your internal workflows change after COVID-19?

Our employees use the home office more than before. We will continue to do so in the future.

How does your guests' behavior change?

At the moment there are not as many visitors as in comparable years. There is general caution. It will take a while for that to change again. Since we usually have a lot of international tourists in the summer, it is logical that fewer visitors can come at the moment due to travel restrictions. Our audio guides are well received. We also expect the digital tour to be well received. We already had good experiences with it last year.

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Alpine Museum, Germany

In Munich, the Alpine Museum archives and documents the history of Alpinism. Next year the museum will be renovated and new, larger exhibition areas will be created. The collection of the Alpine Museum contains more than 5,000 works of art and material goods. These include paintings, graphics and equipment from various mountain expeditions.

What is the current situation of your museum?

Since May 19, 2020 we have partially reopened the Alpine Museum, the library and the archive.

What are you preparing for in the next months?

First of all, we prepare the online search for our users with the help of MuseumPlus. This will finally enable guests to research our inventory independently from home. We are also preparing for the renovation of our museum in 2021.

What role does collection management software play in your preparations?

The newly introduced MuseumPlus database plays an important role for us. Thanks to the associated web application, our internal work is easy to do around the clock and at any location. In addition, the MuseumPlus application enables us to continue the service for our users to a large extent without using the originals and without having to enter the collections and archive rooms.

How will your public service change after COVID-19?

Our new website will be completed shortly. This will enable our users to browse and research in our extensive inventory by themselves. For us, the COVID-19 situation is also an involuntary test run for the renovation phase of our museum in 2021.

Did your internal workflows change after COVID-19?

Due to COVID-19, we had to move our internal work into the home office from one day to the next. This was possible by using MuseumPlus. The software also made it possible to clean up the database for the first time.

Do you already feel a change in the behavior of your guests?

There are currently only a few visitors in the museum. There was no change in the archive and collection except for a slight decrease in inquiries. In our library, the rush is bigger after the long closing time. Above all, the demand for travel guides for Bavaria, Germany and Europe is increasing. Travel guides for the rest of the world are hardly in demand.

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