Art Market

The Metropolitan Museum will close after two employees showed symptoms of COVID-19.

Justin Kamp
Mar 12, 2020 7:07PM, via The Metropolitan Museum of Art

The Great Hall of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. Photo by Daderot, via Wikimedia Commons.

New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art will temporarily close all three of its locations—The Met Fifth Avenue, The Met Breuer, and The Met Cloisters—starting Friday in order to help contain the spread of COVID-19 in New York. The museum did not announce when the closure would end, but said it plans to “undertake a thorough cleaning,” and will announce further plans next week.

Daniel H. Weiss, President and CEO of the Museum, said in a statement:

The Met's priority is to protect and support our staff, volunteers, and visitors, and we have been taking several proactive precautionary measures, including discouraging travel to affected areas, implementing rigorous cleaning routines, and staying in close communication with New York City health officials and the Centers for Disease Control.

Weiss’s statement stressed there have been no confirmed cases connected to the museum, but the New York Times reported two employees have shown symptoms of coronavirus. One is awaiting a test; the other is at home. The museum said it had been preparing for this possibility for several weeks, and has developed an operational plan that includes support for salaried and hourly staff.

The Met is the most-visited museum in America, and third-most visited in the world. In fiscal year 2019 it welcomed more than 7 million visitors. It is one of the first major U.S. museums to close, although other art world institutions have maintained a steady clip of closures over the past weeks. The inaugural edition of the Paris Photo New York fair was postponed, as was New York’s Asia Week auctions and the Dallas Art Fair.

A staff member at Tate Modern has tested positive for COVID-19, according to The Art Newspaper. A museum spokeswoman said the staffer was only at work one day while they were infected, all potentially affected areas of the museum have been “deep cleaned,” and that “galleries remain open and work areas continue to be operational.”

Europe has seen mass closures. After TEFAF Maastricht announced yesterday that it would close four days early, two major Dutch museums—the Rijksmuseum and the Van Gogh Museumannounced that they would be closed until at least March 31st. In Spain, Madrid’s Museo Nacional del Prado has closed, along with other state-run museums. On Sunday, the Italian government decided to close all state-run cultural institutions until at least April 3rd, and the Austrian government followed suit shortly thereafter.

Justin Kamp