Even if crises have the capacity to reveal the structural problems that underlie the various components of social systems, little systematic knowledge exists on how museums respond to these situations. Combining what is known about how museums reacted to previous crisis and empirical evidence of how museums recently adjusted their activities and strategies, the article highlights how art museums in Western Europe started to tackle the ambivalent challenge to pursue social purposes while being urged to monetize possible assets. During the COVID-19 pandemic, art museums have adopted ‘emergency’ and ‘emerging’ strategies associated with the modification of the funding mix, new partnerships and collaborations, and sustainable financing. The offer of digital services, a moderate reliance on crowdfunding, blockchain technologies, and an increased sensitivity of community needs, are among the novelties that art museums engaged with. Forerunners that had started with such practices before the pandemic, had the opportunity to take these to the next level.