Great to see the Department of Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee in the UK’s report on the impact of Covid-19 published. The sentiment expressed by its Chairman hits the mark:
“We are witnessing the biggest threat to our cultural landscape in a generation. The failure of the government to act quickly has jeopardised the future of institutions that are part of our national life and the livelihoods of those who work for them.” (Julian Knight, MP)
However, it is also noticeable that museums are referenced relatively sparsely, and primarily within the context of ‘visitor attraction’ and tourism. Collections in museums are a fundamental part of our local and global identity, rich in creative content about all heritage, including World Heritage Sites. In this technology age, they remain an underexploited resource. Covid-19 reveals the fragility of a museum sector financially dependent on people visiting venues; now is the time for technology to move us beyond just the walls, and re-connect collections and stories with the people and places of which they are part.
Virtually visiting 1 UNESCO World Heritage Site in each country every day. As of today, the total number of confirmed Covid-19 cases in the countries visited is 12,014,018 (UN World Health Organisation). All but 5 of these countries have reported cases, and all but 11 at least 1 death. 445,088 people are known to have died in these countries ‘visited’ to date, although even a brief review of the statistics suggests real numbers are distorted due to differential access to testing. Globally over 18.8 million cases have been reported worldwide (2 million more than a week ago), with 708,639 deaths. Behind each of these numbers are human lives lost and changed forever.
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