Oceanographic Museum closes in unprecedented move

The Oceanographic Museum of Monaco is shuttering its doors for the month of November in an attempt to cut costs and regroup amid the ongoing Covid crisis.  

Monaco’s iconic Oceanographic Museum will be closed to the general public from 3rd November to 1stDecember for reasons of simple economics and public safety. Traditionally, the museum sees the least number of guests pass through its doors in the month of November, and with the pandemic, attendance has dropped by 30% to 50%.

According to the museum’s Director Robert Calcagno, staying open for so few visitors a day makes no sense financially and poses potential safety problems. “If we stayed open, it would be for less than 10 visitors per day … First, there is a question of safety: we cannot let two visitors wander alone in case something happens to them in the museum,” the director told Monaco Matin.

Meanwhile, explained Mr Calcagno, it takes at least 20 people to run the structure, raising the question of economic balance. “This will be an opportunity for staff to take time off in November,” he explained. “They haven’t been able to do it this summer because they couldn’t take in seasonal workers.”

The museum’s operations will not be at a complete standstill, however. The break will give them a chance to renovate outdated attractions and do building works that are more difficult to do when people are present. They also plan to accommodate groups, by appointment only, as well as offer classes and exhibitions.

Monaco’s Oceanographic Museum was officially opened in 1910 by Prince Albert I, a keen lover of the seas. It is a museum of marine sciences and houses the Mediterranean Science Commission and is part of the Oceanographic Institute.

The museum boasts a huge selection of sea flora and fauna with upward of 4,000 species of fish and 200 families of invertebrates on display, as well as sea-related artifacts that include the skeleton of an 18-metre long whale that hangs from the ceiling of the beautiful Baroque revival building.

It will be the first time the museum has voluntarily closed in its 110-year history.