Museums and heritage sites across Italy, the country most affected by the virus after China, will be closed until at least 3 April following an emergency decree from the Italian government on 8 March. The move means a long-awaited exhibition dedicated to Raphael at Rome’s Scuderie del Quirinale, marking the 500th anniversary of the Renaissance painter's death, will remain closed until new government advice is issued. The show was due to run until 2 June. The Italian culture minister Dario Franceschini tweeted that the closures are "a necessary and painful choice", and called on all cultural operators to "make the most of their social networks and sites". The Vatican Museums are also closed until further notice in keeping with Italian policy. This year's Venice Architecture Biennale will run for three instead of six months, after the opening was postponed from 23 May until 29 August. The closing date remains 29 November.
Spain's government decreed a national emergency on 14 March for a two-week extendable period, ordering the closure of all entertainment venues, including cultural institutions and sports facilities. The ministry of culture and sports had already closed state museums and archives around the country, the second worst affected by Covid-19 in Europe, including the Prado, Reina Sofía and Thyssen-Bornemisza museums in Madrid, the El Greco Museum in Toledo and the Altamira National Museum and Research Centre in Santillana del Mar. Officials of the Basilica de la Sagrada Família in Barcelona have indefinitely suspended construction works on and visits to the monument from 13 March. And the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao closed on 14 March.
In Germany, the Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation said Berlin's state museums would close from 14 March until at least 19 April. Palaces and stately homes in Berlin and Brandenburg will also close, and the 11th Berlin Biennale is suspended. The German capital had already closed theatres and concert venues accommodating more than 500 people. Dozens of German museums have since followed suit, including the Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen in Düsseldorf, the Dresden State Art Collections, Museum Ludwig in Cologne and Munich's Alte Pinakothek and Pinakothek der Moderne, along with all cultural institutions in the state of Bavaria. However, staff at the Jewish Museum in Berlin say they are still "working at full speed" to complete the new permanent exhibition and children's museum ANOHA as scheduled by mid-May. Germany's culture minister Monika Grütters has promised government financial help to cultural institutions and artists whose income is threatened by the coronavirus, describing it as a “massive burden” for the arts sector.
Museum directors in Austria decided to close all federal public museums until at least the end of March, in response to sweeping precautionary measures announced by the government, including a ban on arrivals from Italy and large events. The planned opening of the new Albertina Modern museum in Vienna on 13 March has been postponed until further notice.
In line with France's ban on gatherings of more than 100 people, effective 13 March, French museums including the Musée du Louvre, Musée d'Orsay, Centre Pompidou, Grand Palais and Fondation Louis Vuitton in Paris, and the Palace of Versailles, are closed until further notice. The Eiffel Tower will also be closed. Exhibitions due to open in March and April, such as Pompeii at the Grand Palais, will be postponed, with new dates to be announced. The Louvre, the world's most visited museum, had previously announced that only visitors with pre-booked online tickets would be guaranteed entry. All advance tickets will now be reimbursed, according to a museum statement. And the reconstruction of the fire-damaged Notre Dame cathedral in Paris was halted by French authorities on 16 March until further notice, according to media reports. Libération newspaper notes that the delicate operation to remove the melted scaffolding around the roof, scheduled to begin on 23 March, cannot proceed without violating "security measures relating to the coronavirus epidemic" for workers on the site. On 18 March, the hotly anticipated opening of François Pinault's private museum in the former Paris stock exchange, Bourse de Commerce – Pinault Collection, was postponed from mid-June until September.
On 12 March, the Netherlands imposed a ban on gatherings exceeding 100 people, triggering the closures of the Rijksmuseum, Van Gogh Museum and Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam, and the Mauritshuis in the Hague, among others. The national policy was extended on 15 March to run until 6 April.
The federal government of Belgium has ordered the suspension of all cultural activities from 14 March until 3 April, "regardless of the size of the event and whether they are public or private". The ban has shut down a "once in a lifetime" exhibition of the Flemish Old Master Jan Van Eyck at the Museum of Fine Arts, Ghent.
On 13 March, the Federal Council of Switzerland banned public or private events with more than 100 people until the end of April, encompassing museums. The privately run Fondation Beyeler in Riehen, near Basel, will be closed until further notice, while the Kunsthaus Zürich says it will be closed until at least 19 April.
All museums in Poland, including the Auschwitz Memorial, will remain closed by government order until 25 March, along with schools, universities, theatres and cinemas.
On 12 March, the Czech Republic declared a 30-day state of emergency, suspending public access to galleries and libraries and prohibiting all public and private cultural events involving more than 30 people from 13 March. The Czech government has also designated the act of spreading coronavirus as a crime, Al Jazeera reports.
The Hungarian National Gallery and Museum of Fine Arts in Budapest will be closed indefinitely from 17 March, in light of the Hungarian government's ban on indoor gatherings of more than 100 people. The Ludwig Museum of contemporary art will be closed until 31 March.
Portugal has declared a national emergency until 9 April, prohibiting events with more than 1,000 people indoors and more than 5,000 people outdoors. The city of Lisbon has closed municipal museums, galleries, libraries and theatres. The Calouste Gulbenkian Museum will be closed until 3 April and the Museum of Art, Architecture and Technology until a date to be announced.
With Denmark in official lockdown, enforcing a travel ban on non-Danes until 14 April, cultural institutions including the National Museum, National Gallery and Louisiana Museum of Modern Art will be closed until at least 27 March. The Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek in Copenhagen says it will be closed until at least 30 March.
On 16 March, the government of Finland stepped up its Covid-19 response, limiting public gatherings to ten people and closing state and municipal museums along with theatres, libraries, archives and other cultural and recreational venues. The restrictions will take effect from 17 March until 13 April. All events at the Finnish National Gallery’s three sites—Ateneum Art Museum, the Museum of Contemporary Art Kiasma and the Sinebrychoff Art Museum—are cancelled until 30 April.
Norway's Directorate of Health has banned all cultural events, leading the Munch Museum in Oslo to close until further notice.
Irish museums including the four sites of the National Museum of Ireland, the National Gallery of Ireland and the Irish Museum of Modern Art in Dublin will be closed until 29 March, as well as large theatres.
Greece's culture ministry announced that the country's museums and archaeological sites will remain closed until 30 March.
In a joint announcement on 18 March, Moderna Museet and ArkDes in Stockholm, Sweden, said they would close from 19 March while the Nationalmuseum will close from 20 March, until at least 14 April.
In advance of formal advice from the UK government, the Wellcome Collection in London, which focuses on the intersection between health and culture, said on 13 March that it would "begin a staggered closure to staff and visitors" from 17 March, "and then remain closed until further notice".
The South London Gallery is closed from 15 March until further notice, while Parasol Unit, which was due to cease operations in London this spring, has "with great regret" closed its final exhibition two weeks early, according to a statement from its founder, Ziba Ardalan. "We are hugely grateful for all your support and countless positive and enthusiastic feedback during the past sixteen years and very much hope to welcome you also in the future to our international exhibitions and events whenever possible," she says.
The Institute of Contemporary Arts (ICA) in London on 16 March closed its exhibition spaces, cinema, theatre, bookshop and restaurant until further notice. "By doing so, the ICA pre-empts what we hope will eventually be the decision for all cultural organisations in London and the UK in order to safeguard our staff, our visitors, and the artists with whom we work," says its director, Stefan Kalmar, in a statement. Camden Arts Centre also closed its galleries and studios on 16 March until further notice, having suspended its public programme, courses and other events the previous week. And the Photographers' Gallery will be closed from 17 March until at least 31 March "in the interests of public health". National Museum Wales also closed all its sites and cancelled all events.
Joining the list on 17 March were the Serpentine Galleries, Dulwich Picture Gallery, Chisenhale Gallery, Goldsmiths Centre for Contemporary Art, the Barbican arts complex and the Southbank Centre venues including the Hayward Gallery, all the sites of National Museums Liverpool, Nottingham Contemporary, the Ashmolean Museum at the University of Oxford and the Fitzwilliam Museum and Kettle's Yard at the University of Cambridge, which are all closed until further notice.
The four Tate galleries—Tate Modern and Tate Britain in London, Tate Liverpool and Tate St Ives—will be closed from 18 March until 1 May. The Victoria & Albert Museum in South Kensington, as well as the V&A Museum of Childhood in east London and V&A Dundee in Scotland, will temporarily close from 18 March. So, too, will the British Museum, the Royal Academy of Arts, the Whitechapel Gallery, the British Library, Sir John Soane's Museum, the Horniman Museum and Gardens, the Foundling Museum, the Wallace Collection, the Estorick Collection, the Design Museum and the National Portrait Gallery in London, which is already preparing for a three-year closure for refurbishment from 29 June until spring 2023.
Also closed from 18 March until further notice are the five branches of the Imperial War Museums, the three sites of National Galleries Scotland in Edinburgh, the Whitworth Art Gallery in Manchester and Turner Contemporary in Margate. All Glasgow museums, arts and music venues, libraries and sports and community facilities run by Glasgow Life are suspended until the end of April, including Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum.
Days after the National Gallery announced the “unprecedented” decision to postpone its Artemisia Gentileschi exhibition, due to open on 4 April, it announced a temporary closure from 19 March. The gallery says it hopes to reopen on 4 May and stresses that the first major UK exhibition dedicated to the Italian Baroque artist will go ahead at a future date to be decided. Also closing from 19 March are the Hepworth Wakefield, Royal Museums Greenwich and all ticketed historic sites maintained by English Heritage.
The National Trust will close all ticketed properties by 20 March, but says in a statement that it aims to "keep as many of our gardens and parklands open, free of charge, alongside coast and countryside, to encourage the nation to enjoy open space, while observing social distancing measures".
The Glasgow International art biennial has postponed its 2020 edition, including more than 50 exhibitions and 80 events scheduled across the Scottish city between 24 April and 10 May. In a statement, organisers said: "We will honour payment for existing contracts to artists and Across the City projects involved in the 2020 festival... We will continue to work with funders and the wider cultural sector to advocate for ways to support artists and the arts community in these difficult times." The festival is planning to open in 2021.
The director of the Garage Museum of Contemporary Art in Moscow, Anton Belov, led a wave of Russian museum closures, announcing the "very difficult decision" to close the museum, education centre, library and archive in Gorky Park, effective 14 March.
In the wake of the mayor of Moscow's ban on gatherings of 50 people at educational and entertainment venues, the Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts and Museum of Russian Impressionism closed from 17 March until 10 April. The Multimedia Art Museum, Moscow, also shut.
The Russian culture ministry ordered the temporary suspension of all public activities by federal and regional cultural institutions late on 17 March, including museums, exhibition venues, libraries, performing arts organisations and concert halls. The move led to the closures from 18 March of the Moscow Kremlin Museums, the Tretyakov Gallery, the State Hermitage Museum and State Russian Museum in St Petersburg as well as the Catherine Palace at Tsarskoye Selo.
Two days after the first case of coronavirus was confirmed in Turkey, Istanbul's recently opened private contemporary art museum Arter announced its precautionary closure, from 14 to 30 March. The Turkish ministry of culture and tourism has suspended the activities of all state art galleries, theatres and dance venues between 14 March and the end of April.
The health ministry of Israel announced strict new containment measures on 15 March, including the closure of all cultural establishments and national heritage sites. Indoor gatherings of more than ten people are banned. The Palestinian Museum in the West Bank closed on 7 March until further notice.
The state-run Qatar Museums closed down the National Museum of Qatar, Mathaf: Arab Museum of Modern Art, Museum of Islamic Art and Fire Station on 12 March. Exhibitions, such as the Fire Station's forthcoming Picasso’s Studios show in partnership with the Musée national Picasso-Paris (scheduled 15 March-1 July), will be postponed until further notice.
The Abu Dhabi Department of Culture and Tourism has closed all cultural sites in the emirate from 14 to 31 March, including Louvre Abu Dhabi.
Jameel Arts Centre in Dubai will be closed from 16 March until 1 April.
Sharjah Art Foundation will close its venues, including Rain Room Sharjah, from 16 March until further notice. The exhibition Art in the Age of Anxiety, originally scheduled from 21 March to 21 June, is postponed.
Led by the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, a flurry of US museums announced on 12 March that they were shutting down, including the Museum of Modern Art, the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Frick Collection, the Brooklyn Museum, the Neue Galerie, the New Museum, the Jewish Museum, the Queens Museum and the Drawing Center in New York. Joining the list today are the Morgan Library and Museum, the American Folk Art Museum, the Bronx Museum of the Arts, the Noguchi Museum, the Studio Museum in Harlem and El Museo del Barrio.
Four Boston-area institutions announced their decision to close jointly: the Harvard Art Museums, the Institute of Contemporary Art, the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum and the Museum of Fine Arts. The National Gallery of Art is closing in Washington, DC, and the Smithsonian Institution is shutting its museums in Washington and New York. The Peabody Essex Museum in Salem, Massachusetts, is closing, as are the Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum in Ridgefield, Connecticut, the Yale University Art Gallery and the Yale Center for British Art in New Haven and the Penn Museum in Philadelphia. The Art Institute of Chicago, the Detroit Institute of Arts and the Cleveland Museum of Art are shutting down. The High Museum of Art in Atlanta, the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts in Richmond, the Dallas Museum of Art, the Baltimore Museum of Art and the Walters Art Museum in Baltimore, and the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Arkansas are closing as well. Rounding out the list are many more college museums, as a growing number of schools shut down their campuses and shift to online classes.
On the West Coast, the Broad, the Museum of Contemporary Art, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the Institute of Contemporary Art and the Hammer Museum in Los Angeles are all temporarily closed. The Getty Center and Getty Villa will shut down until further notice, the Huntington Library, Art Museum and Botanical Gardens in San Marino has closed its indoor spaces and the Norton Simon Museum in Pasadena is closed. Also shut down are San Francisco's Asian Art Museum, Fine Arts Museums (comprising the De Young Museum and the Legion of Honour) and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA). According to a joint announcement, the Asian Art Museum and SFMOMA aim to reopen on 28 March, followed by the Fine Arts Museums on 31 March. The San Diego Museum of Art is closed, as are the Seattle Art Museum and Portland Museum of Art.
The National Museums of Canada said its institutions across the country, including the National Gallery of Canada in Ottawa and the Canadian Museum of History in Gatineau, will close from 14 March until further notice, following the advice of Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health, who ordered that all gatherings of 250+ people be suspended. The Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO) and Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA) in Toronto are also both closing with plans to reopen in early April. “These are extraordinary circumstances and we understand how disappointing this closure and the associated cancellation of programming and events is to our community,” says AGO's director, Stephan Jost. “As we work toward reopening the gallery to the public, I invite everyone to visit our website, enjoy our online collections and continue to engage with culture through art.”
Museums across Mexico have been shut down, among them the National Museum of Mexican Art, the University Museum of Contemporary Art, the Frida Kahlo Museum, the Museo Jumex, the Palacio de Bellas Artes and the Museo Tamayo.
In Brazil, the Museum of Art of São Paulo Assis Chateaubriand in São Paulo is closed starting 17 March. The Pinacoteca in São Paulo has announced that it will close for approximately 30 days and has suspended all public programming. The Itaú Cultural, the Museum of Contemporary Art of the University of São Paulo, the Institute Tomie Ohtake and the Institute Moreira Salles in São Paulo, and the Museum of Tomorrow in Rio de Janeiro have also closed until further notice. The Instituto Inhotim contemporary art centre in Brumadinho will be closed as of 18 March.
The Museo de Arte Latinoamericano de Buenos Aires and the Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes in Argentina have closed.
Museums and art galleries in the southeastern state of Victoria will be closed from 16 March, including the National Gallery of Victoria (NGV). According to the gallery's website, both NGV International and NGV Australia will reopen on 13 April.
The Museum of Old and New Art (Mona) in Hobart, Tasmania, will be closed indefinitely from 18 March, as further cases of Covid-19 were confirmed on the island state. On 10 March, the museum's founder David Walsh announced that the Dark Mofo winter festival, which was scheduled in June, would be cancelled over the financial risks of coronavirus uncertainty.
The Sydney Biennale, which opened as scheduled on 14 March and is due to run until 8 June, says it is implementing measures "to ensure that the risks to our visitors, artists, staff and volunteers of contracting or transmitting the virus are minimised", such as more frequent cleaning.
Following the Australian government's ban on "non-essential indoor gatherings of greater than 100 people (including staff)" from 18 March, the National Gallery of Australia in Canberra and QAGOMA in Queensland remain open to the public but have cancelled all public programmes and events. The Museum of Contemporary Art Australia in Sydney is also open but capping access to its events at 100 people.
As countries across Africa impose stricter restrictions to slow the spread of coronavirus, including South Africa's ban on gatherings of more than 100 people, the Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa in Cape Town, announced its temporary closure from 17 March until 6 April.
The National Gallery of Zimbabwe in Harare, Bulawayo and Mutare is closed until further notice.
In better news, Asian museums are beginning to reopen after aggressive lockdowns, quarantines and testing regimes were enforced earlier this year to curtail the spread of the virus. For details, see China, South Korea and Japan start to reopen museums after strict coronavirus lockdown
Amid a spike in coronavirus cases in Indonesia, Museum MACAN in Jakarta temporarily closed on 14 March until a reopening date to be announced.
In India, the privately funded Kiran Nadar Museum of Art in Delhi closed on 14 March, followed two days later by an order from the minister for culture and tourism shutting nearly 3,700 monuments and museums protected by the Archaeological Survey of India across the country, including the Taj Mahal mausoleum in Agra, until at least 31 March. The Delhi, Mumbai and Bangalore branches of the National Gallery of Modern Art are all closed until 31 March. With several state governments banning social gatherings and shutting schools, museums, theatres, malls and colleges are following suit. Mumbai's oldest museum, the Dr Bhau Daji Lad Museum, closed on orders from the Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai. The National Museum in Delhi, the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya in Mumbai and Kolkata’s Victoria Memorial Hall and Indian Museum have closed as well.