Museums in New York, Boston, and Washington, D.C. closed en masse to limit COVID-19’s spread.
The West 53rd Street entrance to the Museum of Modern Art. Photography by Iwan Baan. Courtesy of the Museum of Modern Art.
Some of New York’s largest and most renowned cultural institutions announced on Thursday they will temporarily close to curb the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19). The museum closures— including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Museum of Modern Art, Whitney Museum of American Art, Guggenheim Museum, Brooklyn Museum, Queens Museum, Bronx Museum of the Arts, New Museum, Frick Collection, Jewish Museum, The Shed, and others—came after cities in Europe, and others around the world, called off their regularly scheduled programming.
New York Governor Andrew M. Cuomo declared a state of emergency, including a ban on gatherings of more than 500 people and the shutdown of Broadway theaters. The Met announced that it will temporarily close all three of its locations after two employees showed symptoms of COVID-19. As of Friday morning, New York state had a total of 328 reported cases of the virus; 95 of those cases were located in New York City.
With U.S. officials having decided on more aggressive measures to contain the spread of the virus, cultural institutions nationwide are canceling programs or temporarily closing their doors entirely:
- On Thursday, four Boston-area museums—the Harvard Art Museums, Institute of Contemporary Art, Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, and Museum of Fine Arts, Boston—jointly announced they would close to the public.
- The Smithsonian said all of its locations, including its 19 Washington, D.C. museums, will close on March 14th, as will the National Gallery of Art.
- The Philadelphia Museum of Art, while keeping its doors open to the public, will postpone all programming and events until the end of April.
- The Art Institute of Chicago canceled all public events through April 10th, but has remained open. The MCA Chicago similarly canceled some upcoming events but remains open.
- The Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA) in Los Angeles closed temporarily on Friday. The Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) remained open, but canceled public events through April 15th.
Meanwhile, some museums in China, Japan, and South Korea have started reopening as the pace of new COVID-19 cases slows in those countries.