Tefaf Maastricht shifts back from March to May as Covid-19 disruption extends into 2021

The 34th edition of the Dutch art fair will run from 31 May to 6 June, two days shorter than normal, while the fate of Tefaf New York Spring hangs in the balance

Tefaf Maastricht will move to early summer in 2021 Courtesy of Tefaf

Tefaf Maastricht will move to early summer in 2021 Courtesy of Tefaf

The European Fine Art Fair (Tefaf) in Maastricht, The Netherlands will be postponed from mid-March to 31 May to 6 June next year as the disruption reeked by the Covid-19 pandemic extends into 2021. "Amid imperfect circumstances, this move is designed to allow the global art community, including Tefaf’s exhibitors, to more securely and safely come together to participate in Tefaf in-person, in the height of the European cultural season," a statement says.

The fair, which has preview days on 29 and 30 May, will also be two days shorter than usual, as it opens the weekend after a major holiday season in countries like Germany and Austria. This will allow exhibitors enough time to transport their stock to the Netherlands and set-up.

“It is our hope that by pushing the dates of Tefaf Maastricht to later in the spring, we make physical attendance possible, safe, and comfortable for our exhibitors and guests,” says Hidde van Seggelen, Tefaf's chairman. “The safety of our Tefaf community is our utmost priority as we fulfill our commitment to inspiring art lovers, collectors, and institutions, while simultaneously doing our part to cultivate an adaptable art market in which our dealers can thrive.” 

Tefaf Maastricht took place in March this year as the grip of Covid-19 extended across Europe, leading some to criticise the fair's decision to go ahead with an event of nearly 300 exhibitors and 28,500 visitors. It was shut early when an exhibitor tested positive for the virus and large numbers of exhibitors and visitors returned home ill, as reported by The Art Newspaper.

For 2021, the fair is currently "working on a floorplan based on the number of exhibitor applications while taking the required social distancing measurements carefully into account," a spokeswoman says. "The layout of the floorplan will be recognisable and comparable to previous years and we are aiming to maintain stand location and stand size as much as possible," she adds.

Tefaf is also exploring the possibility of making aisles one metre wider, implementing a slow and fast lane to improve the flow of visitors and "creating elegant ways to guide exhibitors and visitors safely round the fair." The spokeswoman adds: "The improvement of a controlled air system in the building to keep fresh and clean air flowing is being arranged. Also the city of Maastricht, Maastricht Exhibition & Conference Centre (MECC) and Limburg are working with us to arrange for safe transfers withing the city and upholding the highest safety standards for hotels."

The exhibitor selection and allocation process is still underway and, the spokeswoman says: "We anticipate that we will have less visitor capacity than in previous years, however the exact change in capacity is not confirmed as yet; what won’t be compromised is the quality of the visitor experience and we shall ensure that we have the best possible environment for buying and selling."

Meanwhile, Tefaf New York Spring—scheduled for May 2021 at the Park Avenue Armory—hangs in the balance. "Tefaf is assessing the safety of proceeding with the New York Spring Fair with expert counsel as the situation evolves in New York and around the world," the spokeswoman says. "We have no statement to make at this time regarding Tefaf New York Spring 2021."

The fair's inaugural digital edition, TEFAF Online, will run next month from 1 to 4 November (preview days on 30 and 31 October) with almost 300 exhibitors presenting just one masterpiece each.

Brafa, which shares many exhibitors with Tefaf Maastricht, has also just cancelled its fair in Brussels in January and will return in 2022.