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When Its Museums Sneeze, the Vatican Catches Cold

When Its Museums Sneeze, the Vatican Catches Cold

Since their reopening, based on the months of June and July 2020, the Vatican Museums have seen a 90% drop in their usual attendance rate. A worrying figure which sees the Holy See deprived of significant income, which is yet necessary to balance its finances.

Since the closure of the Vatican Museums on March 9, 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic, the drop in attendance has amounted to some 3 million visitors.

Last June, after they reopened, the establishment saw only 66,000 visitors walking through its corridors; there were 70,000 a month later, according to data published by the newspaper Il Sole 24 Ore, on July 22, 2020. Figures are estimated to be at 10% of the usual attendance, since in 2019, around 700,000 visitors had entered inside the walls of the leonine enclosure for the month of July alone.

More worryingly, the closure of the museums—which depend on the Vatican City State Governorate—leads to a thorny cash flow problem. In fact, museum management normally generates a gross annual profit of 150 million euros, which, after deduction for management and restoration costs, constitutes an essential windfall to balance the accounts of the smallest state in the world.

The Italian newspaper estimates that the break-even point for the museums is around 8,000 to 10,000 visits per day.

For the Holy See, the Peter’s Pence collection, postponed to October 4, 2020, will therefore be essential in the effort to limit the losses caused by the drop in attendance at the Pontifical Museums—which may added to the sinister litany of the collateral victims of Covid-19.

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