Saturday, 21 March 2020

Tasmanian Museums and Galleries and COVID-19 – message from Janet

from * 

On March 11 the WHO declared the COVID-19 outbreak of a novel coronavirus and global pandemic and since then, for many of us the world has completely changed, and with it our museums and galleries. I hope you, your family, and your colleagues are safe and well.  Unfortunately, due to the coronavirus AMaGA Tasmania has had to suspend our professional development and networking events, but we are here if you have questions or issues. Please contact one of the committee.

I am sure like me you have been bombarded by articles about the virus, and earnest messages of solidarity from many businesses and organisations over the last few days, so I won’t repeat that again, but I thought it might be useful to bring together some information that is hopefully relevant to the cultural sector in Tasmania. Please feel free to add links you have found useful in the comments section, and help build this into a resource for AMaGA Tasmania.

First and foremost the situation is changing every day, and for the latest health advice for yourself and your organisation in Tasmania see here.

Cultural organisations across Australia have had to cancel programs and events, put in place social distancing, and many have closed to the public, including TMAG, QVMAG and Port Arthur here in Tasmania (see our Facebook post for the dynamic list).  A State of Emergency was declared on Thursday and at present all arrivals in Tasmania (with some exemptions) have to self-isolate for 14 days.  Check here for all the latest announcements by the Tasmanian Government.  With the rapid decline of tourists to the island, Tourism Tasmania is issuing a regular news update with information tailored for visitor attractions and tourism businesses. I would recommend subscribing to both sites, for at least the duration of this crisis.
With the rapid onset of the crisis, many museums have been digging out their disaster or business continuity plans, and adapting them for the current situation, or rapidly putting one together. You might find the following sites from the museum sector in other parts of the world useful if you are making a plan, or reviewing a disaster plan that was put together assuming the threat would be a bushfire or flood (which made perfect sense at the time):

While the odd day working from home isn’t unusual, as collecting institutions and/or historic properties, onsite working is the norm for museums and galleries, but many are now shifting to working remotely, or planning in case it becomes necessary. For many staff and volunteers this will be a major shift in work practices, and while isolation might be necessary, it can be disruptive and upsetting for teams and individuals. See this useful article with tips for handling self-isolation and maintaining connections.  There is a lot of information on productive remote working particularly from the private sector. For instance see for a summary on do’s and don’ts for working from home from the Harvard Business Review.

And what to do if your museum is closed, or your visitors are locked down in their homes? The pandemic is accelerating the production of online content, and there seems to be good awareness building, with many (bored) users eagerly taking it up. ICOM is leading the charge in this area, see its hashtag #museumsandchill on social media, and many of the majors have online channels or their own hashtag. For instance see
And of course now would be a great time to engage with digital volunteering eg via Digivol.
Lastly our own National Director Alex Marsden continues her work to advocate for the cultural sector at this difficult time. This is despite trying to find her way back from South Africa, and facing two weeks self-isolation on arrival. Listen to her from about 40 minutes in at

Keep safe, and keep washing your hands!

Best wishes
Janet Carding
President AMaGA Tasmania

*Use your sleeve to open the door muttering 'perhaps they will listen now'. This poster is from the web site developed by a 17 year old young person. Generate a poster with words from your favourite song.

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