Reopenings update: Uffizi Galleries drastically cut capacity and launch TikTok account

Perrotin Gallery leads commercial charge by launching two-month rotating show involving 26 Paris dealers

Eike Schmidt, director of the Uffizi Galleries © Mikhail Metzel/TASS/Alamy Live News

Eike Schmidt, director of the Uffizi Galleries © Mikhail Metzel/TASS/Alamy Live News

As countries edge slowly out of lockdown in the wake of the coronavirus crisis, more public and private galleries are tentatively reopening though visitors will be subject to strict rules on hygiene and social distancing.

The Uffizi Galleries in Florence are due to open mid-May, after closing 8 March, according to Italian government guidelines. Its director Eike Schmidt told Apollo magazine that measures will be taken to combat overcrowding. “We will be implementing additional measures and will also have to lower the number of people who can be in the gallery at any given time—it will probably be half our normal limit of 900 people, so 450 people. The details will all depend on further government rules that we’re expecting to be communicated in the coming days and weeks,” he said.

He also added that the galleries have lost around €10m in revenue so far. “That’s certainly something that we’ll have to work with by pushing some of our building projects into 2021, by slowing some of them down,” Schmidt said, revealing also to Apollo that the Uffizi has launched its own TikTok account in order to engage with a younger demographic.

Following the Swiss governmental Federal Council’s decision to ease coronavirus measures, museums in Switzerland are permitted to re-open from 11 May. Kunsthaus Zurich’s exhibition programme has subsequently been re-scheduled: the exhibitions Ottilia Giacometti. A Portrait and The Poetry of Line—Masterpieces of Italian Drawing are extended until 19 July while Smoke and Mirrors-The Roaring Twenties now begins on 3 July and ends on 11 October.

On the commercial front, Perrotin gallery in Paris has launched an initiative called Restons Unis whereby 26 French galleries will present works at Perrotin’s gallery located in Impasse Saint Claude from mid May. “Although it may not rectify the larger systemic issues of our industry, it does underline the importance of what we accomplish on a daily basis. Online viewing rooms will never replace exhibitions,” says a gallery statement.

The show will comprise four consecutive two-week-long presentations, with each iteration due to include up to seven galleries. Frank Elbaz and Crèvecoeur will, for instance, show works from 23 May to 6 June; Air de Paris and Jocelyn Wolff will take the slot from 4 to 18 July.

“Doors will remain open in order to reduce the use of handles, all countertops will be fitted with a plexiglass screen, documentation will be accessible via QR code, we will carefully manage the flow of gallery visitors, all entrants will be asked to wear a mask, and we will forego opening events,” the gallery adds. Meanwhile, Paris Gallery Weekend, which includes 50 gallery participants, is also due to take place from 2 to 5 July.

Sprüth Magers gallery in Berlin reopened 1 May; visitors are required to book online appointments to view exhibitions dedicated to Kara Walker and Richard Artschwager. “With the health and safety of our visitors and staff in mind, the gallery will limit appointments to 30 minutes,” says a gallery statement; facemasks must be worn.

UPDATE (4 May): Hauser & Wirth is due to reopen its Zurich space 11 May. "The two featured exhibitions are Gunter Forg and Luchita Hurtado which were only open to the public for two days before they had to close," a spokeswoman says. Hauser & Wirth's gallery in Hong Kong will be open by appointment this Friday. "In both instances we're following guidelines for staff and visitors including social distancing measures such as limiting the number of people in the gallery at any one time," the spokeswoman adds.

The Giacometti Foundation in Paris has announced it will reopen 15 May. The exhibition Searching for Lost Works will be extended until 21 June. The Douglas Gordon exhibition, which should have taken place this month, has been postponed till 2021.