As the COVID-19 coronavirus continues its spread across the globe, the art world has already been affected by its rapid growth. Major international events have been canceled, museum exhibits have been delayed, and there will likely be more news to come. For the latest on the coronavirus’ effect on the arts, here are several updates from around the world:
In Paris, staffers at the Louvre Museum voted to close one of the world’s most famous art destinations on Sunday for fear that visitors could bring the coronavirus to the 2,300 workers. The museum remained closed on Monday with updates on its site. There is no set date yet for the museum to reopen. On Saturday, French health officials banned all gatherings of over 5,000 people and advised the public against shaking hands or kissing others on the cheek.
A number of art fairs around the world are bracing for possible disruption. The upcoming Armory Show in New York City will go on as planned according to its organizers, and previews of the fair will start Wednesday. However, the European Fine Art Fair in the Netherlands announced it will be taking more precautionary steps during its mid-March run to disinfect visitor areas and offer free hand sanitizer. Two art-related events in Milan have been canceled. Organizers at the SP-Arte in Brazil and Art Paris are waiting to see what measures should be taken.
Meanwhile, Italy’s cabinet declared museums not in the hardest-hit areas of the country could reopen with a warning that guests should stay about one meter (or around 3 feet) away from each other. Last week, the government asked museums and cultural centers to shut down to slow the spread of the virus, but the closures would only last for a week until they were reevaluated. In addition to museums, shops and restaurants could reopen, but theaters and cinemas would have to remain closed until March 8.
Iran’s Art Bureau and Health Ministry have teamed up to launch a cartoon contest for artists and designers to come up with a creative campaign against the coronavirus. The purpose of the work should be to give hope and remove fear. The Art Bureau is handling submissions and will accept artwork for the contest through March 30.
Van Gogh’s “Sunflowers” is one of 60 artworks from London’s National Gallery that will wait in quarantine as many of Japan’s museums remain closed for the next two weeks in response to the outbreaks. Tokyo’s National Museum of Western Art had planned on opening its new exhibit “Masterpieces from the National Gallery,” which featured “Sunflowers,” earlier in March but will now have to wait until the closure order is set to end on March 16. Several of South Korea’s museums also remain closed until further notice.
Thanks to a large-scale quarantine and travel fears, art buyers in China are staying out of markets and auctions. Galleries are closed, orchestra tours planned long in advance are being canceled, and several movie releases will be delayed in response to the pandemic.
Update 3/3/2020 6:33pm EST: More events are facing dramatic cuts or cancellations in the face of fear over the novel pandemic. Despite these growing concerns, some events that are scheduled months ahead are choosing to go on as planned. Here’s the latest coronavirus roundup:
The United Nations in New York City has trimmed its previously scheduled two-week meeting on gender inequality to a one-day session. The Commission on the Status of Women will note the 25th anniversary of a momentous women’s rights declaration on March 9. UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said the commission will have its full session at a later time.
Art Dubai will pare down its 2020 edition that was originally planned to run March 25-28. Instead, programmers will rearrange some events with a more local and regional audience in mind. New panels and presentations will be announced for the same dates, but it will lack the usual commercial component.
The Cervantes Institute and ARCO canceled its annual “Asian Maps” program in Madrid over coronavirus concerns. Many international guests from the country hardest hit by the pandemic were scheduled to travel to the event scheduled from February 26 to March 1. The Cervantes Institute also suspended its programs at their Shanghai and Beijing locations for the time being.
As some Italian museums and attractions in less affected areas return to normal operations, the Venice Architecture Biennial announced it would go on as planned. The 17th edition of the biennial would run from May 23 — November 29 with 114 architects and architectural firms from 63 countries set to appear. The overall theme of the biennial, How will we live together?, was curated by Hashim Sarkis, dean of the School of Architecture and Planning at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Plans for the Tokyo Olympics are still underway despite the slew of canceled events throughout the world. International Olympics Committee member Dick Pound said that any decision about canceling the games would be made in May, about two months before the Opening ceremony. In a statement, the IOC said athletes should keep training as usual and that they would follow the advice of the World Health Organization. The Summer Olympics are scheduled to run from July 24 through August 9.
As arts communities around the world experience a time of challenge and change, accessible, independent reporting on these developments is more important than ever.
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