19. 03. 2020.

ICOM HQ update – Covid-19: Information for the National Committees

Dear colleagues,
Since December 2019, the Covid-19 virus has spread to Asia, Australia, Europe, Africa and America. The pandemic has resulted in travel and meeting restrictions, which have consequences for the ICOM network and for the entire museum community worldwide. In many countries, museums are closed. Museum professionals therefore no longer have access to their workplaces, or – if they are independent workers – risk losing income. The economic effects of the pandemic will hamper public budgets and private fortunes and consequently the finances of museums.

In France, the government has taken measures in recent days to fight the spread of the virus: closing schools, universities and day nurseries; recommending teleworking where possible; closing bars and restaurants; and since noon on Tuesday, 17 March, imposing a general curfew, which will prevent ICOM Secretariat staff from accessing the ICOM offices. As a result, I ordered widespread teleworking for the entire Secretariat team for an indefinite period.

The Secretariat will continue to work and maintain its services, while adapting to the new conditions, but this situation will impact its output. For instance, the Membership Department can register new members and assign membership numbers, but cannot produce cards or send stickers. We ask for your understanding and to please inform your members of this situation.

In order to keep up to date with the effects of the pandemic on the ICOM network and the museum community, and to be able to provide you with these details, we will need to collect information on how museums are and will be impacted. We therefore ask you to keep us informed of the measures taken by your respective authorities (total or partial closings of museums, confinement of museum professionals, duration of measures, etc.). Please, send them by email to: icom.network@icom.museum

The Secretariat will use this opportunity to reinforce its digital activities and recommend that you do the same. The Communications department has provided advice to museums on how to achieve a greater online presence.

An upcoming campaign will share digital outreach actions museums are taking. If your museum or museums in your country are taking such initiatives during curfew, please share the information with us by tagging ICOM (@icomofficiel on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook) or send an email to: icom.network@icom.museum
We also encourage you to use the Social Media Guidelines for ICOM Committees.

We thank you in advance for your understanding and collaboration. The Secretariat remains at your disposal and you can count on our support during this difficult period, which we will overcome together.


Dr. Peter KELLER
Director General
ICOM – International Council of Museums