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German museum chiefs say enforced November closure is 'wrong decision'

More than 40 directors sign an open letter to regional governments saying museums should not be included in month-long coronavirus lockdown

Germany is entering into "lockdown light" today © Mika Baumeister

The directors of more than 40 German museums signed an open letter calling on government authorities to reconsider what they say is “the wrong decision” to compel museums to close for the month of November in the second coronavirus lockdown.

Among the signatories are Stephan Berg, the director of the Kunstmuseum in Bonn, Frédéric Bussmann, the general director of the Chemnitz art collections, Ulrike Groos, the director of the Stuttgart Kunstmuseum and Felix Krämer, the general director of the Dusseldorf Kunstpalast.

“Because of the safety standards already in place, museums are among the safest public places,” the letter said. “If museums have to close again, this seems like a symbolic gesture. But it will have massive consequences—not just for museums, which will be weakened still further, but also for the public.”

They added that “it is incomprehensible to us why DIY shops, car showrooms and other shops can remain open, while museums—which have the same or even more space to make adequate provision for visitors to circulate safely—should have to close.”

New coronavirus restrictions enter into force in Germany today and apply until the end of November. In what has been dubbed “lockdown light,” schools, kindergartens and shops can remain open.

In a statement after the new measures were announced, German Culture Minister Monika Grütters said she is “very worried” about the impact of the lockdown on the arts.

“With all understanding for the necessity of the new rules, these new closures are a real catastrophe for the arts,” she said. She called for “efficient and generous compensation for revenue loss for institutions and appropriate support for the many freelancers.”