Date of Graduation

Fall 12-11-2020

Document Access

Restricted Project/Capstone - USF access only

Degree Name

Master of Arts in Museum Studies


College of Arts and Sciences


Museum Studies

First Advisor

Paloma Añoveros


The outbreak of the coronavirus, or COVID-19, has impacted the museum industry in a variety of forms. When the pandemic forced museums to close in mid-March, the impacts the virus would have on the museum industry were swift and harsh. Museum closures resulted in personnel lay-offs and furloughs due to loss of revenue from ticket sales. Large galleries, empty of visitors for months, saw staff attempt to engage with their audiences on a digital platform. Membership and education programs had to re-envision operations. However, care of collections has remained a priority in the museum field, and despite the virus, stewardship of the collection a museum houses continues on. Many collections professionals are seeing firsthand the changes that have resulted in the field due to the coronavirus.

Through investigating the impacts the pandemic has had on preservation and access of predominantly art museum collections, one can begin to understand to a fuller extent exactly what has changed within collections management practices from March of 2020 until December of 2020. Utilizing interviews from museum professionals around the United States, relevant literature on collections management best practices, and resources released to aid institutions in navigating COVID-19, this analysis aims to consider various avenues of preservation and access that may have seen impacts resulting from the coronavirus’ effect on the museum industry. By inspecting collections stewardship standards, collection safety, conservation concerns, the disinfecting of collection spaces and objects, and how risk management policies were implemented to address the pandemic, it is evident the coronavirus has not had significant impacts on preservation of art museum collections in many cultural organizations. However, when exploring how access has been impacted through deaccessioning practices, loan policies, digital initiatives, staff access, and access in institutions that have re-opened, it becomes clear that levels of access throughout the pandemic have changed significantly. The following study elaborates upon the aforementioned preservation and access angles, examining how the coronavirus has impacted collections management.

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