From museums and galleries to theaters and concert venues, it’s an unavoidable fact that some of the most moving experiences of art often involve being in crowded spaces. COVID-19, labeled a pandemic by the World Health Organization, has thus posed a special challenge to art institutions around the world, and their efforts to contain its spread are impressive. Here’s our latest on the coronavirus’ effect on the arts, updated daily.
4/30/2020 12:23pm EDT:
- The International Committee for Museums and Collections of Modern Art (CIMAM) has issued new safety guidelines for the reopening museums. They include temperature screenings of all visitors, implementing contact tracing measures, ensuring all visitors wear a mask, and suspending large events (more than 100 participants at any one time.) Suspending guided tours is also suggested.
- The Smithsonian has implemented pay cuts for 89 senior-level executives to avoid staff furloughs, reports the Washington Post. The salaries will be cut by 10% for one year starting May 24; Smithsonian secretary Lonnie G. Bunch III and deputy secretary Meroe Park will be taking higher cuts, at 15%.
- In a letter to exhibitors, Art Basel communicated new policies regarding the fair’s flagship edition in Basel, Switzerland. Originally scheduled for the summer, the fair has already been moved to September. Now, Art Basel is promising exhibitors a full refund if the fair has to be canceled altogether in 2020. It has also shifted the deadline for galleries to notify Art Basel if they no longer want to participate from May 1 to June “in the hope that this additional time will provide more clarity for all involved.”
4/29/2020 1:33pm EDT:
- Italian critic and curator Germano Celant has died in Milan from complications of COVID-19. He was 80 years old.
- Some Texas museums plan on remaining closed past May 1st, opposing governor Greg Abbott’s order to reopen businesses by this Friday. The Dallas Museum of Art, the Nasher Sculpture Center, and the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth are among the Texas institutions that will stay shuttered.
- In South Korea, some major museums will reopen on May 7, but some galleries are already reopening and welcoming visitors (with strict social distancing and other measures in place.) Meanwhile, institutions elsewhere in the world are preparing their gradual return to business; Hyperallergic has an update on their plans.
- Profits from Christie’s sale “Andy Warhol: Better Days,” currently open for bidding, will go to the Andy Warhol Foundation for their emergency relief efforts to artists. (The foundation has contributed to Artist Relief, a new, direct-to-artist grant initiative, among other aid efforts.)
4/27/2020 12:06pm EDT:
- Prospect New Orleans, the contemporary art triennial, has postponed its fifth edition, originally scheduled for this year. “Prospect.5: Yesterday we said tomorrow” will now open October 23, 2021 and remain on view through January 23, 2022.
- The NYC Department of Cultural Affairs (DCLA) and Americans for the Arts have partnered to survey 501(c)3 nonprofit cultural organizations in New York City to capture the impact of COVID-19 on the city’s arts sector. Over 1,200 organizations that have applied for DCLA funding in recent years are encouraged to complete the short survey, which will remain open for two weeks and can be accessed here.
- Hundreds of leading artists and cultural figures in the UK have signed an open letter to the government asking for funds to support the struggling creative industries. The contemporary sculptor Anish Kapoor and actor Jonathan Pryce are among the signatories of the letter, authored by the Creative Industries Federation (CIF), which warns that creative professionals and organizations are “falling through the gaps of existing government support measures,” reports the Guardian.
- The Art Dealers Association of Canada (ADAC) and the Contemporary Art Galleries Association (AGAC), two nonprofits that bring together the country’s galleries and dealers, have written to the Minister of Canadian Heritage requesting “urgent assistance” to its members impacted by the pandemic. Among its demands, the letter asks for emergency rent relief, protection from eviction, and the extension of government assistance programs to help pay salaries for art dealers and small business owners.
4/24/2020 12:57pm EDT:
- Several universities in the US are facing legal complaints over their response to the coronavirus, among them Columbia University, Pace University, University of Miami, Drexel University, the University of Arizona, reports NPR. Yesterday, two new suits were filed in federal court on behalf of Pace and Columbia students, claiming the universities should provide refunds and damages to students for services no longer available now that campuses are closed.
- Museums in Berlin may reopen starting May 4. The more than 170 state, city and private museums in Berlin have remain shuttered since mid-March, reports Frankfurter Allgemeine. The German Museum Association has compiled a set of guidelines to help museums gradually open their doors, including hygiene measures, how to limit the number of visitors, and other precautions.
- Dancers of the Dutch National Ballet in Amsterdam put on live performances in the city’s empty streets. The solo choreographies were inspired by the coronavirus lockdown and performed in front of several cultural landmarks, including the Amstel Hotel and the Eye film museum. Footage of each performance will be edited into a film to be streamed online in early May.
4/22/2020 2:04pm EDT:
- In the UK, the Treasury is attempting to stop museums and art galleries from paying their portion of the salaries of staff who have been furloughed under the government’s Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme. The recently announced scheme allows employers to furlough workers and submit a claim for 80% of their wages from the government, thus remaining responsible for only 20%. According to the Guardian, the Treasury has told culture officials that heritage museum staff should not pay the 20% portion of staff salaries, meaning furloughed employees at institutions such as the British Museum and the Victoria & Albert Museum could receive only 80% of their salary, the portion provided by the government.
- The Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) will provide $100,000 in emergency relief grants to eligible organizations that can demonstrate loss of income for music, festival and carnival events canceled as a result of COVID-19. Applications for the Cultural and Creative Industries Innovation Fund (CIIF) are due May 20 and can be accessed here.
- The French American Museum Exchange (FRAME) has established a new Emergency Grant Initiative to support 32 museums in the United States, Canada, and France. The program will provide grants of up to $10,000 to museums in FRAME’s network to help fund content development for online initiatives during the pandemic. Applications are due today and can be found here.
- In positive news, the Italian contemporary artist Michelangelo Pistoletto has recovered from the coronavirus. He is 86 years old.
4/21/2020 4:31pm EDT:
- MoMA PS1, the Broad Museum in Los Angeles, and the Honolulu Museum of Art are the latest to be hit by the waves of layoffs and furloughs. At MoMA PS1, more than 70 percent of the museum’s staff has been furloughed; only 17 employees remain.
- New York City mayor Bill de Blasio’s proposed budget for the coming fiscal year includes a $75.4 million slash to the Department of Cultural Affairs (DCLA), a 35% reduction from the previous year. The breakdown includes a $6.8 million reduction in funding for the Metropolitan Museum of Art, a $2.8 reduction for the Museum of Natural History, and $54 million less for “cultural programs,” the largest allocation, which affects more than 900 nonprofits across the city.
The Brooklyn Public Library (BPL) has adapted its in-person cooking class for teens, CookMobile, to reach teens at home with a new virtual tutorial series. Librarians will teach new recipes online, focusing on dishes that pertain to a tradition or culture and sharing the social background of different foods. The first tutorial, with a recipe for Trini Stew Fish, is up now on the library’s YouTube channel.
4/20/2020 12:12pm EDT:
- Museum workers continue to be affected by the crisis. In Miami, the Pérez Art Museum laid off 15 full-time staff and furloughed 54 part-time workers; the remaining 49 employees will experience salary cuts. The museum announced September 1 as a potential reopening date, at which point it hopes to re-hire those workers, reports the Miami Herald.
- Phillips is hosting an online sale to benefit Robin Hood, an organization dedicated to relieving poverty in New York City. The auction opens for bidding on May 1 and will include works by Albert Oehlen, Mimi Lauter, and others. All proceeds from Auction4NYC will boost Robin Hood’s COVID-19 relief efforts and support frontline nonprofits in NYC, the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak in the US.
- Artists at Risk (AR) has started an emergency fundraiser to support artists living in and unable to leave countries where they face threats to their freedom or lives. As borders close and artists can no longer take up residencies outside their own countries, AR aims to help them cover living expenses and the cost of relocating to a place of safety. Donations to the fund can be made here.
4/17/2020 2:40pm EDT:
- In Oakland, California, a museum has found a creative way to hold on to part-time staff even as its finances are impacted by the pandemic. According to KQED, Oakland Museum of California (OMCA) announced reduced hours for 106 full-time staff members in order to retain 44 part-time employees and avoid layoffs.
- In an effort to support more artists during the crisis, the Sobey Art Foundation and the National Gallery of Canada will divide this year’s Sobey Art Award equally among the 25 longlisted artists. Each artist will receive a $25,000 award. (In previous years, one winner would receive $100,000, the remaining shortlisted artists would receive $25,000 each, and the 20 longlisted artists would receive $2,000 each.)
- Seeking to raise awareness about the coronavirus’s impact on the cultural sector, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has launched its “ResiliArt” initiative, a series of global virtual debates with artists throughout the crisis. UNESCO hopes the debates will impact and support the decision-making process of UN member states in the development of policies to bolster the arts.
- The Association of Art Museum Directors (AAMD) has passed a series of resolutions allowing more flexibility in the use of restricted funds held by some institutions. The association cannot lift restrictions on funds, but it will not penalize museums choosing to use them.
- Art Paris, a modern and contemporary art fair taking place in Paris’s Grand Palais every spring, has canceled its 2020 edition. Initially scheduled for April 2-5 and later postponed to May 28-31 of this year, the fair will now return in April 2021.
4/15/2020 12:57 EDT:
- Hyperallergic reported on what may be the first “socially distant picket,” as workers at the Frye Museum in Seattle protested the institution’s termination of one third of its workforce due to pandemic-related losses. The protesters also claimed that two union representatives were specifically targeted by the museum.
- Meanwhile, the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston will furlough 314 full- and part-time staff starting April 23, according to Patch. Museum director Matthew Teitelbaum will reportedly be taking a 30 percent pay cut in addition to the furloughs. The Portland Art Museum and the Northwest Film Center in Oregon will also furlough employees, reportedly 80% of its workforce by April 16.
- John Driscoll, a scholar of American art and founder of the Driscoll Babcock Gallery in New York City, has died from coronavirus-related complications. He was 70 years old.
- New York Foundation for the Arts (NYFA) has partnered with the Maurice Sendak Foundation (MSF) to launch a new emergency relief grant program for children’s picture book artists and writers. The Maurice Sendak Emergency Relief Fund, administered by NYFA, will provide unrestricted grants of up to $2,500. Applications will be open on Thursday, April 23 at 1:00pm EDT and will close once 600 applications are received; more information can be found here.
4/10/2020 1:28pm EDT:
- In news of layoffs and furloughs in the arts, the Guggenheim told staff this morning that it will furlough 92 employees, projecting a $10 million shortfall in revenue. And according to ARTnews, Pace Gallery has furloughed more than 25 employees through mid-August, around a quarter of staff at the gallery’s flagship New York location.
- Meanwhile, independent bookstores continue to struggle. In San Francisco, the City Lights Booksellers & Publishers — known for its role in the emergence of the Beat Generation literary movement — says it is on the verge of shuttering; a fundraiser to help keep the store open has raised more than two thirds of its goal.
- A South Asian Arts Resiliency Fund aims to support US-based South Asian artists and arts professionals financially impacted by the coronavirus pandemic. Started by the India Center Foundation (ICF) with the support of MELA Arts Connect, the fund will award a minimum of $1,000 grants to support the creation of new projects. Grant applications open this Monday, April 13 at theindiacenter.us/artsfund and donations to the fund can be made on its GoFundMe page.
- The New Art Dealers Alliance (NADA) has decided to cancel the second edition of NADA Chicago, its annual contemporary art fair in the Chicago Athletic Association Hotel. The show was sheduled for September 24-27. “We are looking into alternative initiatives for our members and galleries to showcase work,” said NADA executive director Heather Hubbs in an email.
4/9/2020 12:55pm EDT:
- The Pulitzer Prize Board has postponed its announcement of 2020 award winners. Originally scheduled for release on Monday, April 20, the prizes in journalism, books, drama, and music will now be announced on Monday, May 4, 2020 via live stream on Pulitzer’s website.
- Mighty Real/Queer Detroit, a month-long, multi-venue LGBTQ art exhibition planned for June of this year, has been postponed. The inaugural edition of the show will now take place in June 2021. The organizers’ GoFundMe page remains open for donations to cover exhibition expenses, including catalogue production.
- The coronavirus pandemic could cause a third of French galleries to close before the end of 2020, finds a survey by the Comité professionnel des galeries d’art reported by the Art Newspaper. The trade association’s 279 members project a total loss of €148 million for the period March-June.
- In Singapore, museums and galleries are closing after Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong announced new containment measures to help reduce the spread of the virus. They will remain shuttered for at least a month.
4/8/2020 5:40pm EDT:
- The Network of European Museum Organizations has published the preliminary results of a survey that looks at the financial impact of COVID-19 on more than 650 museums from 41 countries, including the US, Iran, and all 27 EU member states. Among its findings, museums in touristic regions are experiencing an income loss of 75-80%, and large institutions, such as the Rijksmuseum, the Kunsthistorisches Museum Vienna, and the Stedelijk Museum are losing between €100,000-600,000 per week. The survey will remain open through April 17.
- The International Folk Art Market (IFAM), the world’s largest folk art market, has canceled its 17th annual edition, scheduled to take place in July in Santa Fe, New Mexico. All artists who were slated to participate this year will be automatically included in the 2021 event. The news comes as Santa Fe’s 99th annual Indian Market, which was scheduled for August 15-16, and the city’s Traditional Spanish Market, taking place in July, were also canceled due to concerns over the pandemic.
- The New York City art gallery and women-run exhibition space Assembly Room has launched a new initiative to support female curators during the pandemic. “Curating in the time of COVID19” invites independent women curators to share their work and stories through a series of short videos on their Instagram. Those interested in being featured can submit their “home-made, DIY, stress-free on production values, 5 minutes mp4 videos” and a short bio to email@example.com.
- Brutalist architect Michael McKinnell, known for his radical design for Boston’s City Hall, has died due to complications from coronavirus. He was 84. Artist and writer Helène Aylon has also died from COVID-19, reports Artforum. She was 89 years old.
- The New Museum has furloughed 41 full- and part-time staffers. They will be paid through April 15.
- As the art world adapts to a new virtual reality, Phillips will host a series of online-only auctions in April and May. The first sale, focused on editions and works on paper made between 1970 and 2016, starts tomorrow, April 8 and runs for a week. Two concurrent contemporary sales will follow, opening on April 15.
- One more virtual museum platform to check out: the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago (MCA) has launched Commons Online, a digital extension of its community engagement space. Along with virtual talks, workshops, discussions, and previously unseen archive material, the website also offers resources and curricula for contemporary art-based learning — more important than ever as institutions look for alternative ways to engage with their audiences.
4/6/2020 5:40pm EDT:
- In an effort to support its arts community, New Art Dealers Alliance (NADA) is partnering with the Kinkade Family Foundation to sell prints of a never-before-seen work by Thomas Kinkade. All proceeds from the sale of “Untitled (Toilet Paper)” — an unlikely subject matter for the American artist of idyllic fantasy landscapes — will be donated to NADA’s fund for galleries and artists affected by the pandemic. The nonprofit has recently mobilized several initiatives in the wake of the COVID-19 crisis, including starting a petition to aid NYC galleries and advocating for Senate Bill S8125A to suspend rent for small businesses.
- The Detroit Institute of Arts has postponed two exhibitions scheduled to open in June. Detroit Style: Car Design in the Motor City, 1950–2020 will now open in November, and Van Gogh In America has been moved to October.
4/6/2020 1:13pm EDT:
- Indianapolis Contemporary, an Indiana museum dedicated to contemporary art, has announced it will permanently shutter. The decision came as it was determined that the institution’s closure due to the coronavirus pandemic would worsen its finances. “The impact of the coronavirus is certain to exacerbate economic hardships and reduce exhibition opportunities,” reads a statement on its website. According to IndyStar, museum operations will officially cease April 10.
- The New York Botanical Garden (NYBG) has rescheduled its exhibition KUSAMA: Cosmic Nature, originally scheduled to open next month. The exhibition will now take place in spring through fall 2021. In an email from NYBG, Yayoi Kusama shared a spiriting statement: “The passion that I and those at The New York Botanical Garden have poured into this exhibition is still burning. Everyone, I hope you will wait. We aspire for endless love permeated with everyone’s hearts of human love, a wish for peace in the world, our dreams, and wonders of hope — it is our wish that this exhibition can offer these as its greatest gift. I hope you all can wait.”
- The Museums Association has released a statement for museums collecting materials that document the coronavirus pandemic. The guidelines focus on the ethical aspects of collecting objects, ephemera, and stories, encouraging “sensitivity and respect” and considering “the interpretation and care of digital items including social media posts and other material.”
- Comic artists James Lee and Rob Liefeld are auctioning original superhero illustrations to help support comic book shops that have taken a financial hit due to COVID-19. The auctions take place on eBay on username chunkymonkey0000‘s page, and all the proceeds will go to brick-and-mortar comic stores.
4/2/2020 1:52pm EDT:
- The layoffs in the cultural sector continue. According to KQED, the Museum of the African Diaspora (MoAD) has laid off seven staff members and reduced the hours of its remaining 11 employees. The decision was reportedly communicated in an email from director Monetta White to workers, saying that the museum’s closure has impacted its “already limited operating funds.”
- Meanwhile, auction house Sotheby’s is furloughing 200 of its staff, and those not furloughed will get a 20% pay cut through June, according to the Wall Street Journal.
4/1/2020 2:17pm EDT:
- The Americas Society has launched a new series of online programs to raise awareness of Latin American contemporary art and music during the pandemic. A first panel, focused on the novel virus’s impact on Latin American performing arts organizations, will be livestreamed today, April 1, at 6pm EST.
- In commercial news, Hauser & Wirth says it will donate 10% of profits from its online sales to the World Health Organization’s COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund, according to an e-mail from the gallery. The donation is part of Hauser & Wirth’s new initiative “#artforbetter,” through which it plans to “provide charitable support to both global and local causes.”
- Meanwhile, Frieze, which had to cancel its upcoming spring New York fair, has agreed to refund exhibitors 100% of their booth costs as well as share its online sales platform with participating galleries at no cost.
3/31/2020 2:32pm EDT:
- William Helmreich, a sociologist and scholar also known for his book “The New York Nobody Knows: Walking 6,000 Miles in the City” (2013), has died from coronavirus. He was 74 years old.
- As the coronavirus continues to jolt art institutions and their workers, the museum layoffs persist. The Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art (MASS MoCA) announced it would let go 120 of its 165 employees starting April 11. According to WBUR, Boston’s NPR news station, MASS MoCA is the first major Massachusetts museum to implement wide-scale layoffs since the start of the COVID-19 crisis.
- In a rare victory for museum workers, however, the Metropolitan Museum of Art announced it would continue paying its staff through May 2 (workers had previously been promised pay through April 4.) The museum has not yet confirmed to Hyperallergic whether this policy also applies to freelancers.
- Meanwhile, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) plans to move ahead with its $750-million building expansion project, with the first demolitions of existing structures scheduled to begin in April, reports the Los Angeles Times. (LACMA told Hyperallergic that it is “still planning to pay the museum’s hourly and part-time staff through the closure period.”)
3/30/2020 3:45pm EDT:
- The Affordable Art Fair, which had to postpone its spring New York edition, has officially announced new dates. The fair will now take place on September 24-27 of this year, with a private view on September 23.
- Canada is now among the countries offering emergency relief for the arts sector. Today, the Canada Council for the Arts announced $60 million in advance funding to help its 1,100 “core funded organizations” ensure cash flow and address outstanding payments to artists and workers. The Council plans to issue advances by May 4.
- Film at Lincoln Center (FLC) in New York City has furloughed or laid off approximately 50% of its full-time staff and all of its part-time staff. A letter written by Lesli Klainberg, FLC’s Executive Director, says the nonprofit hopes to re-hire furloughed workers and will continue offering health insurance to all of its furloughed full-time employees.
- Meanwhile, the New York City Ballet, which has had to cancel its spring season, projects an $8 million loss. The company is still planning to hold its summer performances, though that may be subject to change, reports the New York Times.
- In cheerier news, the indie bookstore Powell’s Books has rehired more than 100 employees after experiencing a surge in online sales. The company had temporarily laid off employees after closing all its stores across Portland, Oregon on March 15 in order to contain the spread of coronavirus.
3/27/2020 2:43pm EDT:
- The Hammer Museum, affiliated with the University of California, Los Angeles, has laid off 150 part-time student employees, reports the Los Angeles Times. The affected students were primarily front-line workers who staff the reception desk, box office and galleries and will be paid through April 10.
- The museum guide app Smartify has announced that it will make all its audio guides free for the remainder of 2020. Smartify, which touts itself as “the No.1 most downloaded museum app,” hosts around 2 million artworks from over 120 venues, with audio tours such as a “Masterpieces of the Louvre” walkthrough. For those who think simply visiting museums online is so last week.
- A series of webinars led by Hannah Cole, artist and tax specialist, will address what artists and freelancers should know about the recent US relief bill, including legal protections, expanded paid leave, and how to access the new payments from the US Treasury. All the coronavirus-related webinars are pay-what-you-wish, with 50% of the proceeds going to the Asheville City Schools Foundation Emergency Assistance Fund.
- Also, Hyperallergic breaks down what the US’s $2 trillion stimulus bill, passed today, means for the arts.
3/27/2020 12:12pm EDT:
- Architect and critic Michael Sorkin has died after contracting the coronavirus, reports the Architects’ Journal. Sorkin was 71 years old.
- In line with the French Ministry of Culture’s initiative #CultureAtHome, the Centre Pompidou in Paris has launched a series of digital content programs on its social networks and website. Among them, the museum will invite artists to film themselves in their homes or studios on Instagram stories once a week. The first to participate will be artists Rosa Barba, Liam Everett, Tursic & Mille, and Elmgreen & Dragset; all content can be accessed via the #centrepompidoumetz #daybyday and #CultureAtHome hashtags.
- Working Artists and the Greater Economy (W.A.G.E) has published a series of guidelines for the postponement or cancellation of work, in order to help artists and nonprofit institutions “navigate the future of work in our field during the pandemic.” The recommendations include postponing, rather than canceling, contracted work that has not yet been completed.
- Masterpiece London, a UK fair for art, design, furniture, and jewelry, has decided to cancel this year’s edition, scheduled to take place from June 24 -July 1. In a statement on its website, the fair says its next edition will take place in 2021, from June 24-30.
3/26/2020 1:08pm EDT:
- Art Basel has announced the postponement of its flagship fair in Basel, Switzerland in June. The 2020 edition of Art Basel will now run from September 17 to September 20, confirms an e-mail statement.
- The Cleveland Museum of Art has announced pay cuts and furloughs as well as an anticipated $5 million revenue loss related to its coronavirus closure.
- The 34th Bienal de São Paulo, slated to open on September 5, has been postponed. The biennial will now open on October 3 and run through December 13. Individual exhibitions by Clara Ianni and Deana Lawson as well as performances authored by León Ferrari and Hélio Oiticica, scheduled to take place between April and August, will now be incorporated into the main group show.
- As hospitals across New York City begin to run out of critical supplies, the city is asking those with the ability to source and/or make products to step in to support its coronavirus response. An online supply registration form hopes to gather information on supplies individuals or businesses can sell or donate.
- A group of artists and art workers in the UK have started an emergency fund specifically for art technicians who, as in the US, are often hired as precarious freelance workers at museums and galleries. Those who wish to support their efforts can do so by purchasing an artwork or donating any amount on the fundraiser’s website.
3/25/2020 1:32pm EDT:
- The Church of the Holy Sepulchre, located in Jerusalem’s Old City, closed today, Wednesday, in an effort to contain the spread of the coronavirus. The church is known to Christians as the site of Jesus’s crucifixion and burial, and the decision comes only weeks before Easter, the Christian holiday to be celebrated on April 12 of this year. The closure is especially notable because the church rarely shuts its doors: in 2018, when the church shuttered temporarily in protest of new city taxes, an AFP reporter said it had only done so three other times since the Israeli occupation in 1967.
- The 2020 edition of Venice Design Series (VDS), a fundraiser for Venice Community Housing that offers architectural tours of several Los Angeles neighborhoods and artist studio visits, will now take place as a live stream experience called VDS Live scheduled for May or June. All proceeds will benefit Venice Community Housing, according to an e-mail statement.
- The Art Students League of New York has launched #LearnArtLIVE, a series of online programming meant to encourage artists to create artwork amid the nationwide lockdowns and quarantines. This Thursday, March 26 at 2pm ET, League instructor Amy Digi will teach “Fine Arts For Your Fine Tots” on Facebook Live, focusing on art project ideas for children ages 3-7.
3/25/2020 12:40pm EDT:
- The Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles (MOCA) is laying off all its part-time employees, a total of 97 workers, reports the Los Angeles Times. The layoffs, which the museum says are temporary due to the coronavirus crisis, include gallery attendants, exhibition installers, retail staff, and education team members, among others.
- New York has set up a hotline offering free appointments with mental health professionals during the coronavirus lockdown. Over 6,000 volunteers are staffing the hotline, which can be accessed by calling 1-844-863-9314. “In NY we are concerned about the mental health part of this pandemic, too,” tweeted governor Andrew Cuomo.
- A group of art handlers and preparators at the Whitney Museum in New York City have gathered some of the art installation equipment that can also be used by medical workers and are distributing them to Columbia’s medical center. (We cover this initiative, and several other news and updates related to the pandemic and the art world, in Hyperallergic’s latest weekly podcast.)
- According to the Washington Free Beacon, Harvard University is facing backlash for laying off its subcontracted dining hall workers without pay. The university told the Beacon that they would provide 30 days of paid leave to full-time food service workers, but that agreement reportedly does not extend to subcontracted employees.
3/24/2020 6:30pm EDT:
- Broadway playwright Terrence McNally died today, March 24, from complications caused by COVID-19. According to Variety, Terrence was 81 years old and a lung cancer survivor with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.
- RedLine Contemporary Art Center in Denver, Colorado has announced it will direct all the funds for its 2020 INSITE program towards artist relief grants. Any artists residing within an 80-mile radius of Denver are eligible to apply; an online information session will be held tomorrow, Wednesday, March 25 from 5-6 pm.
- A group of artists has launched a subscription-based video platform meant to help the performing arts community impacted by the public health crisis. The Trickle Up (NYC Artists Network) offers $10/month subscriptions to access original content by playwrights, choreographers, singers, and more. “If we can get 10,000 subscribers…then every month we can give $10,000 to 10 different artists affected by the Covid-19 cancelations,” states the website.
- The mayor of Washington, DC has launched a $25 million fund to support small businesses, nonprofits, and self-employed individuals affected by the coronavirus pandemic. The funding will be available through small business recovery microgrants. To qualify, applicants must be located in Washington, DC and must have lost at least 25% of their revenue due to COVID-19.
3/24/2020 1:28pm EDT:
- Art historian and critic Maurice Berger has passed away, apparently due to complications from COVID-19, according to David Ross’s Instagram. His post reads “R.I.P. dear friend, colleague and inspiration to many. A great loss,” followed by the hashtag #covid19usa.
- In Asia, some museums are re-opening as coronavirus cases wane, but others are shuttering again as new cases emerge in an apparent second wind of the virus. The Hong Kong Museum of Art and the Flagstaff House Museum of Tea Ware tweeted that they would be closed until further notice as of Monday, March 23; meanwhile, Forbes reports that more than 180 museums in China have re-opened and begun welcoming visitors, albeit with capped visitor numbers to continue avoiding large crowds.
- The 2020 Olympics, to be held in Tokyo, Japan, are now officially postponed. The games, scheduled to begin in late July, will now take place in summer 2021.
- In an e-mail, the Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM) announced yesterday the cancellation of its 12th annual BAMcinemaFest. The film festival, offering New York premieres of works by independent American filmmakers, would have opened on June 11.
3/23/2020 3:05pm EDT:
- The Strand bookstore in New York City has laid off the majority of its staff “due to no revenue coming in and no clear idea as to when we can reopen our doors,” according to a statement posted on its Twitter account. A total of 188 employees have been laid off and only 24 remain on staff, reports Gothamist, but the Strand says it hopes the layoffs are only temporary.
- Skowhegan, the prestigious artist residency in Maine, has canceled its 2020 summer session over uncertainty related to COVID-19. Applications received so far will be considered for a class of 65 participants to be held in the summer of 2021.
- For teens who are home from school and suffering from isolation (or just plain boredom), the New York-based arts nonprofit No Longer Empty (NLE) has launched a virtual space to keep them connected and engaged. NLE NYCapsule, a free weekly program that meets on Friday from 4 to 6pm via Zoom, is geared to NYC youth between 14 and 19 years old.
- Arts freelancers who may have lost work due to COVID-19-related cancellation can download Laura McSweeney’s free Lost Earnings Log template to track canceled contracts and financial losses. The form can be used for freelancers to apply for government or private funds as they are made available.
3/23/2020 1:05pm EDT:
- Yesterday, Sunday March 22, the Croatian capital Zagreb was hit by a 5.3-magnitude earthquake, its strongest in 140 years, while the city was under coronavirus lockdown. According to the Guardian, the quake caused destruction and injuries; among the damages, the top of one of two spires of Zagreb’s cathedral collapsed. Those who were isolating at home to control the spread of the virus were forced out onto the streets to protect themselves from falling debris, a situation Croatia’s prime minister called “two parallel crises that contradict each other.”
- Following the Australian government’s announcement banning non-essential public gatherings of more than 500 people last Monday, many art events and institutions nationwide have shuttered, including the Australian Centre for Contemporary Art (ACCA), the La Mama Theater, and the National Gallery of Victoria. The 22nd Biennale of Sydney, which opened on March 14 and was scheduled to run through June, will indefinitely close its public exhibitions starting tomorrow, Tuesday, March 24. But the show plans to go on online: the biennale will migrate to Google Arts & Culture platform. “Creating a virtual Biennale will bring the exhibition and programs to life through live content, virtual walk-throughs, podcasts, interactive Q&As, curated tours and artist takeovers,” says an email announcement.
- The upcoming and 13th edition of Manifesta, the European biennial of contemporary art scheduled to open on June 7 in Marseille, France, has been postponed. Manifesta has also temporarily closed its two project spaces in Marseille, Espace Manifesta 13 and Tiers QG, until at least April 15.
- To the surprise of no one, and following suit after Frieze New York’s cancellation announcement, the European Fine Art Fair (TEFAF) has had to postpone its upcoming New York Spring 2020 fair. The new dates will be October 31-November 4.
- Now, some good news: adding to the endless flow of art-related e-resources, the Getty has compiled a trove of art books, online exhibitions, podcasts, and videos on its blog. Highlights include a didactic video on how illuminated manuscripts are made and drawings by Michelangelo to explore.
3/19/2020 5:45pm EDT:
- The Cannes Film Festival, scheduled to take place from May 12-23, is one of the latest major art events to postpone over coronavirus concerns. A statement on its website says the festival may still be able to take place this year, in end of June or beginning of July.
- Following the UK’s decision to implement stricter containment policies after adopting a lax and highly criticized stance with regards to the coronavirus, major institutions in the country have shuttered. All of the Tate Galleries (Tate Modern, Tate Britain, Tate Liverpool, and Tate St. Ives); the Institute of Contemporary Arts London; the Royal Court in London; the Royal Opera House; and the Society of London Theater are among those closing.
- Bonhams’ salerooms in the UK, New York, and Los Angeles will be closed to the general public, with the exception of appointment-only viewings. The news comes after staff complaints regarding the auction house’s coronavirus response. Bonhams’ Hong Kong office will remain open.
- The 1-54 Contemporary African Art Fair New York, scheduled to open in May, will now be postponed until 2021.
3/18/2020 3:43pm EDT:
- Frieze New York, scheduled to open on Wednesday, May 6, has been canceled. In a statement emailed to Hyperallergic, a fair spokesperson said galleries would be contacted regarding refunds in the next week. Object & Thing, an art and design fair slated to run concurrently with Frieze, has announced the postponement of their second edition and will shift to a new concept debuting November 13-15.
- Seattle Mayor Jenny A. Durkan will provide $1.1 million in government funding to support creative workers and cultural organizations economically impacted by COVID-19. According to an e-mail announcement from the city, $100,000 will be allotted to immediate relief for artists and creative workers, while $1 million will be used to create an Arts Stabilization Fund to invest in arts and cultural organizations.
- The Boston Mayor’s Office of Arts and Culture has announced an artists relief fund. Artists who have been financially affected by the coronavirus can apply for $500 or $1000 grants through the fund, which will be replacing the city’s usual Opportunity Fund through June.
- BRIC House, the arts and media institution in Downtown Brooklyn, will be closed to the public. All of its public programs will be postponed or canceled, including scheduled artist performances.
- During the temporary closures of Smithsonian museums due to coronavirus, the National Portrait Gallery in Washington, DC is launching several online initiatives, including eight exhibitions through Google Arts & Culture and open studio workshops led by artist Jill Galloway on the museum’s Facebook page every Friday at 11am.
3/17/2020 1:40pm EDT:
- The Glasgow International Festival of Visual Art, the biennial event known as the Glasgow International set to open on April 24 this year, will be postponed to 2021. “A decision like this was unimaginable only weeks ago,” says an email statement. “Making it now, although difficult, we believe gives us the best chance of protecting what makes Glasgow International unique, in the long term.”
- NYCxDESIGN announced the suspension of its May festival, shifting its programming to this October. The NYCxDESIGN Awards program, however, will continue as planned in May, with virtual programming followed by a live event in the fall.
- The American Alliance of Museums (AAM) has joined a letter urging Congress to include museums and other nonprofit organizations in its COVID-19 economic stimulus and relief packages. AAM is urging people to write to their legislators to advocate for nonprofits, offering an online form you can fill out here.
- The UK membership and advocacy group Museums Association (MA) is asking for funds allocated to the “festival of Brexit,” a UK-cultural event scheduled for 2022, to be given to museums affected by the coronavirus. The festival has a £120 million (~$145,126,200) government investment, according to the Art Newspaper.
- Trailing after Christie’s and Phillips, Sotheby’s has now decided to close most of its locations, reports ARTnews. The company’s headquarters in Dubai, Geneva, Milan, Paris, and Zurich are closing their doors, while its Hong Kong location is open by appointment. The London headquarters remains open as usual. In other commercial news, Pace Gallery has also suspended exhibition programming in London and Geneva beginning today.
3/16/2020 6pm EDT:
- The Metropolitan Museum of Art, which plans to be closed until April 3, has now also indefinitely postponed the Met Gala, its massive annual fundraiser (scheduled for May 4).
- The Marfa Invitational Art Fair in Texas is rescheduling this year’s upcoming edition, previously set to open on April 2. It will now run August 13–16.
- In Latin America, shutdowns in the cultural sectors begin. The Inhotim Institute in Brazil will close starting Wednesday, March 18; in Argentina, the Museo de Arte Latinoamericano de Buenos Aires (MALBA) was the first to shutter, through March 25 for now, followed by many others.
- The Arts Council England (ACE) has announced a plan to help artists and freelancers during the pandemic. As reported by the Art Newspaper, a statement released by ACE read, “We will refocus some grant programmes to help compensate individual artists and freelancers for lost earnings. This will require further planning. It may take about ten days before we can announce the details.”
3/16/2020 1:05pm EDT:
- The Bean, the widely visited public sculpture by artist Anish Kapoor in Chicago, has closed. It’s the most attended tourist site in the Midwest, and people love to lean against it, touch it, and take pictures with it and their friends, so it makes sense to try and keep crowds away during a pandemic. While Millennium Park, where the sculpture is located, will remain open, Cloud Gate — the official name for the piece — is closed to the public through April 12.
- The Mercosul Biennial, to be held from April 16 to July 5 in Porto Alegre, Brazil, has taken a series of protective measures, canceling all in-person activities, creation of onsite artworks, and performances scheduled for opening week. It has also postponed an international seminar slated for April 24-25. “We plan to reprogram these activities when the situation has been overcome,” says an email from the Fundación Bienal del Mercosur and this year’s head curator, Andrea Giunta.
- The Abu Dhabi Department of Culture and Tourism has announced the closure of numerous cultural sites, including the Louvre Abu Dhabi, Manarat Al Saadiyat, Qasr Al Hosn, the Abu Dhabi Cultural Foundation, the Al Ain Palace Museum, Al Ain Oasis, Al Jahili Fort, and Qasr Al Muwaiji.
- Vittorio Gregotti, the Italian urban planner, writer, and architect of the Barcelona Olympic Stadium, died yesterday, March 15, from the coronavirus. According to the Architect’s Newspaper, Gregotti developed pneumonia and passed away in the San Giuseppe hospital in Milan, where his wife Marina Mazza is also being treated. He was 92 years old.
- Auction houses are taking some of the most drastic measures in their history. Christie’s is closing nearly all of its locations in the US and Europe, including New York, and postponing its March and April sales (its King Street, London location remains open); Phillips has postponed all sales globally until mid-May. As of now, Sotheby’s is sticking it out: the auctions house’s galleries in New York and London were open this weekend and there has been no announcements of closures.
- The number of resources to access art digitally seem to have mushroomed overnight. The Metropolitan Opera is offering free virtual concerts and the Berlin Philharmonic has made its digital concert platform completely free through March 31. In Italy, where museums have been closed for x weeks now, some institutions are making virtual visits possible by searching the hashtag #museichiusimuseiaperti (“closed museums open museums”).
- Platforms to support artists whose shows and gigs have been canceled due to COVID-19 are popping up everywhere, too. The Instagram account @SocialDistanceGallery is hosting works from postponed or suspended BFA & MFA thesis shows; a website called the Social Distancing Festival aims to showcase work that’s been delayed or disrupted by the pandemic as well as “work being done by the many artists who suddenly have extra time for creation, and may be spending a bunch of time alone at home.” Meanwhile, Creative Capital is circulating a list of resources for artists, including emergency grants.
- The Boston Mayor’s Office of Arts and Culture has established an artist relief fund, modifying its existing Opportunity Fund to help local artists whose incomes are being impacted by the pandemic.
- In the United Arab Emirates, the Sharjah Art Foundation galleries and other venues, including Rain Room Sharjah, Sharjah Art Shops, and the Art Centres, will be closed indefinitely to the public starting today.
- After the Metropolitan Museum’s indefinite closure announcement, a slew of major institutions in New York City followed suit: the Brooklyn Museum, the Frick Collection and Library, the Shed, the Bronx Museum, the Jewish Museum, and the New Museum will be closing to the public and postponing all events until further notice. Smaller spaces like the Center for Italian Modern Art (CIMA) and the Brant Foundation are also closing their doors.
- The Harvard Art Museums, Institute of Contemporary Art, Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, and Museum of Fine Arts, Boston have announced their collaborative decision to close to the public.
- The Oklahoma Contemporary, scheduled to open its inaugural exhibition in their new building tomorrow, is temporarily postponing all its opening week events (Opening Celebration, Grand Opening, and regular opening hours.)
- The contemporary arts space Ballroom Marfa in Texas announced its decision to close through the end of the month. The Judd Foundation, also in Marfa, is suspending public programs and guided visits.
- The restaurant the Modern, located inside The Museum of Modern Art (which has yet to announce any closures) had to shut down earlier this week for deep cleaning after learning that the executive director of the Port Authority, who tested positive for the virus, had dined there. The restaurant has reportedly re-opened to the public.
- But amid all the cancellations and postponements, some in the art world are coming up with more creative solutions. The artist-run Essex Flowers gallery in New York City, for instance, will host a six-hour-long opening for its two new group shows, instead of the usual two hours, in order to thin out crowds. “Might Delete Later” and “Earth Body,” previously scheduled to open tomorrow from 6-8pm, will now open this Saturday, March 14, from 12-6pm. Meanwhile, Casey Kaplan Gallery has shifted its hours in an effort to “mitigate travel during peak rush hours,” says an email statement; beginning tomorrow, and for the foreseeable future, the gallery will be open from 11am-6pm.
- Here is a useful list of COVID-specific resources available for freelance artists, including local relief and emergency grant opportunities.
3/12/2020 2:42pm EDT:
- Students at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) are circulating a form for those seeking help after the college announced it would close undergraduate and independent living group (FSILG) housing starting March 17. “Many alums and grad students have expressed an interest in opening their homes to affected students who may not be able to return home for any reason (prohibitive cost of travel, visa issues, family issues, etc.) or who may need other support (financial, storage, airline miles, or otherwise),” says a text on the form, started by MIT alumna Yolanda Lau. Efforts to contain the coronavirus’s spread continue to take a massive toll on higher education institutions across the country; Columbia University in New York City has gone remote for the rest of the semester and is encouraging students to move out of dorms.
- The Affordable Art Fair’s New York edition, previously scheduled for March 25–29 at the Metropolitan Pavilion in Chelsea, is postponed for “a future date in 2020,” according to an email announcement. The biannual event is usually attended by 15,000 visitors at its spring edition alone.
- All New York City public libraries are suspending public programming and events from Friday, March 13 until Tuesday, March 31. But the city’s libraries are staying open and “continue to offer access to books, public computers, wifi, expert staff recommendations and a variety of resources, including — beginning next week — computers dedicated to the Census,” according to a Brooklyn Public Library e-mail. Among other arts institutions in the US to cancel upcoming programming are the Irish Arts Center, the ICA Miami, and the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra.
- One of several fundraisers now circulating to aid those especially affected by the measures taken to contain the virus seeks help for sex workers. “Most are unable to take time off to address this issue, or are unable to work because of COVID panic – we need a relief fund to keep our siblings housed, fed, and able to weather this storm,” writes SWOP Brooklyn in its fundraiser page.
3/12/2020 1:45pm EDT:
- Today, Metropolitan Museum President and Chief Executive Daniel Weiss announced the Met’s three locations — the Met Fifth Avenue, Met Breuer, and the Met Cloisters — will close indefinitely starting Friday, March 13. According to a statement, “The Museum will undertake a thorough cleaning and plans to announce next steps early next week.” According to the New York Times, the Met has previously only closed on two occasions, following 9/11 and Hurricane Sandy.
3/12/2020 12:30pm EDT:
- A total of 231 galleries will take part in the first edition of Art Basel’s Online Viewing Rooms, launching March 20 after the fair canceled its Hong Kong edition over coronavirus concerns last month. According to its website, the digital initiative will run parallel with all its physical shows in the future.
- Germany’s cultural institutions and artists affected by closures and low attendance numbers due to the coronavirus will receive financial support from the government, promised Culture Minister Monika Grütters. Though most museums in the country remain open, Berlin and Bavaria have closed their public theaters and concert halls.
- Spain’s “big three” — the Prado Museum, the Reina Sofía, and the Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza — closed yesterday. According to Telemadrid, attendance at the Prado Museum had fallen by 50% as of the beginning of this week.
- Coachella joins the list of music festivals postponing their forthcoming editions. The giant pop event, which takes place every year in the desert of Southern California, has delayed next month’s event to October. “Even rescheduled, the postponement of Coachella could pose a significant disruption to the annual concert season,” writes the New York Times. “The event, founded in 1999, draws up to 125,000 people a day and has come to be a bellwether for the multibillion-dollar touring business.”
- As Hyperallergic closely monitors the spaces closing their doors, we’re also interested in the galleries, museums, artists, and other cultural actors who believe the show must go on. Perrotin Gallery’s forthcoming Jean-Michel Othoniel show in Tokyo, for example, is still set to open April 8. “Last we have checked, the artist plans to be at the opening as well,” says an optimistic email announcement. According to our Editor-in-Chief’s (unscientific, but still insightful) Twitter poll, most people are not avoiding art openings or museums because of COVID-19.
3/11/2020 9:20pm EDT:
- The largest exhibition on the Baroque painter Giovanna Garzoni, scheduled to open yesterday at the Palazzo Pitti in Florenca, has been postponed.
- The New York-based nonprofit Visual AIDS sent an email announcing its office would be closed until March 20 and sharing a helpful article for those living with HIV and worried about the virus. “We recognize that many people in our community are living with HIV and AIDS, chronic illnesses, and disabilities, and that many of us are at higher risk of acquiring the coronavirus,” said Visual AIDS’s statement.
- Following days of pressure and a petition with nearly 50,000 signatures, the City College of New York (CUNY) and State University of New York (SUNY) will begin moving to online classes starting March 19. All CUNY schools will also have a five-day instructional recess from March 12 to 18 to allow students and staff time to transition to the new model.
- A joint exhibition of the collection of Donald Marron to be mounted by Pace and Gagosian galleries in New York in April has been postponed. A Pace representative told ARTnews that the exhibition was delayed because it had become difficult to secure loans from institutions and collectors.
- The first edition of Paris Photo in New York, scheduled for early April, is now also postponed.
- New York auction houses Christie’s, Sotheby’s, Bonhams, Heritage, Doyle, and iGavel have rescheduled their Asia Week sales from March to June.
3/11/2020 12:25pm EDT:
- The National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. has postponed its forthcoming exhibition A Superb Baroque: Art in Genoa, 1600–1750 because the lockdown Italy has made it impossible to transport the artworks slated for loan from museums in Rome and Genoa. The show, set to be the first major survey of Genoese baroque art in the US, may be rescheduled for next year.
- An art dealer who participated in the Dutch art fair Tefaf Maastricht has tested positive for coronavirus. The fair, which opened last Thursday, March 7 and was to run until Sunday, March 15, has decided to shut down early for the first time in its history in order to help limit the virus’s spread.
- The 2020 LA Art Book Fair, scheduled to take place at The Geffen Contemporary at MOCA from April 3-5, has been canceled, confirmed Printed Matter in an email. The nonprofit is encouraging people to continue supporting its exhibitors, many of whom are independent booksellers.
- The online publication Vice has closed its Brooklyn office because of concerns that one staffer may have been exposed to coronavirus. According to Hypebeast reporter Maxwell Tani, all employees of Vox Media — which includes New York Magazine, Vulture, and the Cut, among others — have also been asked to work from home.
- After shutting down this year’s edition over coronavirus fears, South by Southwest (SXSW) has fired one third of its staff. The massive layoffs come as an urgent financial measure, since the annual film, tech, and music festival in Austin, Texas said that the cancellation would cost them “tens of millions of dollars.”
- The School Of Visual Arts in New York City announced yesterday that it will suspend classes for the rest of the week. Meanwhile, uncertainty and anger continue to rock the City University of New York (CUNY), whose campuses have not yet canceled classes or shifted to online learning even though a petition to do so has now reached nearly 45,000 signatures (up more than 20,000 names from yesterday.) Appalled students and staff have taken to social media to express their outrage.
3/10/2020 3:12pm EDT:
- The Seattle Art Museum has shut down touchscreens and children’s play areas, and canceled or postponed all museum events throughout its three locations for the remainder of the month.
- Franck Riester, the French culture minister, has tested positive for the coronavirus. It’s likely he got it from one of the five French parliamentarians who have also come down with the virus. According to the country’s health minister, Riester is resting at home and doing well.
- “Save The CUNY Students,” a Change.org petition for the City College of New York (CUNY)’s 25 campuses to cancel or transfer classes online, has reached over 21,000 signatures. The petition cites nearby schools such as Touro University in Flushing, which has closed down due to the spread. In the comments section, several raised concerns over the risks posed for elderly faculty as well as the many students of the public university who can’t afford to get sick because they support their families. Diane Beauchemin, CUNY’s Chemistry undergraduate chair, is one of the signatories. “I know how dangerous the coronavirus is to the students and staff of Queens College,” she said in a comment. “I am for the idea of transferring classes to online mode for the rest of the semester.”
- The Fifth Annual Symposium of Latin American Art, scheduled to take place at CUNY’s Graduate Center, NYU’s Institute of Fine Arts, and Columbia University from April 2-4, has been temporarily postponed.
- In France, the annual book fair Salon du Livre decided to cancel its 2020 edition, but the Salon du Dessin, the drawing fair to be held at the Palais Brongniart in Paris at the end of the month, plans to go on with its show. (On Sunday, March 8, the French government forbid all indoor gatherings of more than 1,000 people; while the Salon du Livre can reach around 160,000 visitors, Salon du Dessin’s president said it usually does not welcome more than 1,000 visitors at once, but it will offer two distinct opening hours in order to keep numbers under the government cap.)
- Days before its openings, the Photography Show and the Video Show in the UK announced on Twitter that the two festivals would be postponed until September.
- Harvard has asked its students to move out of university housing within the next five days “in an effort to de-densify [its] community.” The institution had already started transitioning to virtual instruction. Amherst College has implemented similar measures, asking students to leave campus by March 18 unless they have received special permission to stay.
- In Iran, which trails closely after Italy in number of cases (8,042 diagnoses and 291 deaths since the beginning of the outbreak), the Minister of Cultural Heritage, Tourism and Handicrafts has ordered the cancellation of all Nowruz (Persian New Year) celebrations. According to the Islamic Republic News Agency, the hours of museums, palaces, and cultural sites across Iran will be reduced.
- One of Asia’s most visited sites and the world’s largest religious monuments, the Angkor Wat Buddhist temple complex in Cambodia, is virtually deserted. The landmark is one of numerous popular tourist sites across Asia that are being hardest hit by fears of the coronavirus’s spread. According to Khmer Times, Angkor Wat has seen record low tourist numbers this season; tour guides and other cultural workers are increasingly feeling the economic impact of the virus.
3/9/2020 5:51pm EDT:
- In Italy, the country with the second-largest outbreak after China, the government has shuttered all museums and heritage sites, including the Colosseum, the Pompeii archaeological park, and the Vatican Museums. The unsparing government decree will be in place until April 3. Among the hardest hit by the measures is the Scuderie del Quirinale in Rome, which had pre-sold 60,000 tickets for its recently opened exhibition Raffaello 1520-1483. Organized to coincide with the 500th anniversary of Raphael’s death, the show features more than 200 works by the Italian master painter.
- In New York City, all Armory Week fairs were able to move forward as scheduled, but as the number of diagnosed cases in the state continues to climb — 142 confirmed as of this morning — the art world is inevitably looking ahead to Frieze. A spokesperson for the fair told Hyperallergic that it is proceeding with preparations for its New York edition, slated to open on Thursday, May 7, but will be “monitoring the situation closely in partnership with local, state and federal health officials. The 1-54 Contemporary African Art Fair, also opening in May in New York, does not yet have plans to cancel either.
- The Venice Architecture Biennale, which originally planned to proceed with its May opening, has now been delayed three months. The new dates for the show are August 29 – November 29.
- In an Instagram post, artist and activist Ai Weiwei communicated that rehearsals for his new production of Turandot at the Teatro dell’Opera di Roma had suffered a “sudden death” due to the coronavirus crisis in Italy. “The fate of this opera is just like the fate of the current struggle in this time of globalization and involvement with China. The true tragedy is yet to come,” he added.
- South by Southwest (SXSW), the annual film, tech, and music festivals in Austin, Texas, have also been canceled; in concerning news, the company’s insurance does not cover disease-related cancellations, so the move may significantly impact SXSW’s finances.
- After staffers at the Louvre Museum in Paris walked off the job and voted to close the institution in order to protect its 2,300 workers, the Louvre has reopened but “is taking measures to limit the number of people in the museum,” according to its website. Only visitors with pre-booked e-tickets or those entitled to free admission will be guaranteed entry (previously, the Louvre had banned cash payments, as banknotes change hands frequently and can contribute to the virus’s spread.)
- The MFA in Studio Art department at Hunter College in New York City has canceled its Open Studios, a highly anticipated event that brings thousands to its 205 Hudson building in Tribeca. Meanwhile, many universities across the country are putting in-person classes on pause. Higher education institutions including Columbia, Fordham, Hofstra, Princeton, Stanford, Seattle, Yeshiva, and the University of Washington will either cancel classes altogether or migrate them to online platforms.
- Last Thursday, Palestinian authorities closed the Nativity Church in the biblical city of Bethlehem in the West Bank — a tourist hotspot, especially in the upcoming Easter holiday season. The coronavirus outbreak is affecting places and forms of worship worldwide: in the United States, some dioceses are asking for ceremonies that involve physical touch, such as the exchange of peace, to be halted until the outbreak is over.
- In the face of a canceled Art Basel Hong Kong and ongoing health and political crises, Hong Kong’s art community has launched ART Power HK, an online platform that will allow galleries, museums, and auction houses to exhibit art virtually. Online viewing rooms, recorded and live-streamed exhibitions and studio visits, interviews, and talks are all part of its programming.
The following blurbs are from Hyperallergic’s earlier report, “An Update on How COVID-19 Is Impacting the Art World,” by Monica Castillo.
3/3/2020 6:33pm EST:
- 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.
3/3/2020 7:00am EST:
- 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.
- The coronavirus outbreak has already caused the cancellation or postponement of several events, including Art Basel Hong Kong earlier in February and the Major Triennial in Beijing in January.