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National Museum of Modern Art, Zagreb. Photo by Denis Bučar.

Croatian museums and the pandemic


On March 19, 2020, the National Civil Protection Headquarters of the Republic of Croatia announced that all museums and other cultural institutions in Croatia would be closed for at least 30 days. From April 28, 2020, museums in Croatia began to reopen and remained open since.

However, following the increase in the number of Covid-19 cases, the National Civil Protection Headquarters issued a decision to close all museum institutions in the Primorje-Gorski Kotar County from April 2 until April 26, 2021.

Due to damages caused by the earthquakes on March 22 and December 29, 2020, some museums in Zagreb and museums in Sisak-Moslavina County are closed for visitors. (April 15, 2021)



National Museum of Modern Art, Zagreb. Photo by Denis Bučar.

Impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on Croatian museums


At the end of 2020, MDC researched the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on Croatian museums. From 162 registered museums, 97 responded to the survey. Results showed that 74% of the surveyed museums had recorded a drop in the visitor numbers ranging from 50 to 100%. Almost two-thirds (63%) had seen their revenue fall by more than 50%.

All surveyed museums had to shut down during the spring 2020 lockdown for a period ranging from two weeks up to several months. Almost 50% of museums were closed to the public for 5 or 6 weeks, coinciding with the duration of lockdown in Croatia. The prolonged closure of museums was due to the consequences of the earthquake that hit Zagreb.

The lockdown caused the number of museum visits to drop significantly in 2020, with 28% of surveyed museums reporting between 50 and 70% decrease in attendance. Even 41% of museums saw their visitor number drop by as much as 70-90%, and 6% of museums had an almost complete decline in attendance (90-100%).

Lack of museum visitors caused the fall in self-generated revenues. Only three museums reported no losses. The rest of the museums can be divided into percentage ranges according to revenue loss: 20-30% loss (2% of museums); 30-40% loss (6% of museums); 40-50% loss (9% of museums); 50-60% loss (5% of museums); 60-70% loss (15% of museums); 70-80% loss (18% of museums); 80-90% loss (12% of museums); 90-100% loss (15% of museums).

Museums adapted to the new situation and used digital communication channels to stay connected with their audience. Facebook is the most popular social media platform used by 45% of Croatian museums, followed by Instagram (25%), YouTube (17%), Twitter (7%), Vimeo (2%), etc. According to the survey, 72% of museums track visits to their social media platforms using available analytics tools. Only 57% of museums track visits to their website.

Museum workers did very well organizing work in shifts and from home even during the lockdown; only very few of them had to interrupt work due to the pandemic. Despite that, there were reports of salary reductions for museum staff, reductions in capital investments and the purchase of equipment, as well as the termination of employment contracts.


[Edited and translated from: MDC istraživanje – utjecaj pandemije na muzeje u Hrvatskoj by Tea Rihtar Jurić, published in Vijesti iz svijeta muzeja 129, December 1, 2020]