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Ongoing Coverage of COVID-19’s Impact on the Art World

A man wearing a protective face mask walks in front of El Prado museum in Madrid on March 12, 2020, after all of Madrid's state-run museums were closed to the public due to the coronavirus outbreak. Photo by Gabriel Bouys / AFP via Getty Images.

A man wearing a protective face mask walks in front of El Prado museum in Madrid on March 12, 2020, after all of Madrid's state-run museums were closed to the public due to the coronavirus outbreak. Photo by Gabriel Bouys / AFP via Getty Images.

The COVID-19 virus has been declared a pandemic by the World Health Organization (WHO). Because of COVID-19’s global spread, museums, art fairs, galleries, and many other art institutions and industry events have been faced with the decision to cancel, postpone, or alter their 2020 editions or planned programming. Artsy has been covering this developing story across many articles. Below is a resource to navigate all our coverage of the COVID-19 virus’s impact on the art world so far.

April:

April 3

The Getty Trust launched a $10-million COVID-19 relief fund to support art nonprofits in Los Angeles.
The J. Paul Getty Trust is committing $10 million to a COVID-19 relief fund to support nonprofit art organizations and museums in Los Angeles. The L.A. Arts COVID-19 Relief Fund was announced on Thursday and will be administered by the California Community Foundation (CCF). It will give emergency operational funding and recovery support for smaller and mid sized arts nonprofits based in Los Angeles County; the Getty is encouraging other organizations and individuals to contribute to the relief fund. Read more.
Yayoi Kusama’s New York Botanical Garden show was postponed until 2021.
The New York Botanical Gardens (NYBG) has rescheduled its eagerly anticipated exhibition “Kusama: Cosmic Nature” for spring 2021 in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The show, which was originally scheduled to open on May 9th, will bring together multiple installations across the NYBG’s 250 acres, along with seasonal floral displays from horticulturists. Read more.

April 2

Sotheby’s furloughed nearly 200 employees in response to COVID-19.
Sotheby’s furloughed 12 percent of its staff—roughly 200 employees—in response to the financial effects the COVID-19 pandemic has had on the art market, the Wall Street Journal reports. Employees in the U.S. and U.K. who have not been furloughed will receive a 20 percent pay cut until June 1st, and executives will take an additional 10 percent reduction. Overtime pay has also been temporarily suspended. Read more.
The Warhol Foundation launched a $1.6-million COVID-19 emergency relief grant.
The Foundation for the Visual Arts will provide $1.6 million in emergency grants to artists affected by the COVID-19 crisis. The foundation is teaming up with partner organizations in its Regional Re-granting Program to distribute individual artist grants of $100,000 to artists in 16 U.S. cities; the funds may be used to help cover everyday expenses like food, rent, medical costs, and childcare. Read more.

April 1

Hauser & Wirth will donate 10 percent of all online sales profits to COVID-19 relief.
Mega-gallery Hauser & Wirth will be donating 10 percent of all online sales profits to the World Health Organization’s (WHO) COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund. It is the first measure being taken as part of the gallery’s new philanthropic #artforbetter initiative. Read more.
Frieze New York will fully refund galleries and launch an online viewing platform.
Frieze New York will completely refund booth fees for the nearly 200 exhibitors that were set to participate in the fair before it was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. ARTNews reported that refunds will be paid out over two periods—half on May 20th, and half on June 20th. Frieze will also refund other advance payments exhibitors may have made, including deposits and construction fees. Additionally, exhibitors have the option to roll over refunds into payments for the 2021 edition of the fair. Read more.

March:

March 30

Anonymous Was a Woman launched a $250,000 COVID-19 emergency relief grant for women artists over 40.
Anonymous Was A Woman (AWAW) announced a new emergency relief grant to help artists directly affected by the COVID-19 crisis. The newly developed program allocates $250,000 in grants at up to $2,500 per person to artists who “have experienced financial hardship from loss of income or opportunity as a direct result of the crisis,” according to AWAW's press release. Women-identifying visual artists over the age of 40 can apply for the grant directly on NYFA’swebsitefrom April 6th through 8th. Read more.

March 26

Museums and art schools donated supplies to hospitals overwhelmed with COVID-19 cases.
Museums and art schools in California and New York are donating supplies to hospitals facing shortages of protective equipment in the midst of the COVID-19 crisis. Read More.
Museums across the U.S. laid off staff in response to COVID-19.
As COVID-19 continues to spread across the United States, museums around the country have begun to lay off large portions of their staff. On Tuesday, Los Angeles’s Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA) notified all 97 of its part-time employees as well as those involved in the museum’s Contemporary Art Start educational program that they would be let go. UCLA’s Hammer Museum laid off 150 part-time student workers the same day. Read More.
Art Basel postponed its Swiss fair due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Art Basel has pushed its marquee expo in Basel, Switzerland, back by three months due to the global COVID-19 pandemic. The fair, which typically takes place in late June, will now run from September 15th to 20th at its usual venue, Messe Basel. The decision was reached, according to Art Basel, “in close consultation with a wide range of gallerists, collectors, partners, and external experts,” in an attempt to insure not only that all parties involved remain safe and healthy, but also to make sure they all feel sufficiently secure to travel to the fair. Read More.

March 25

U.S. museums pressed Congress for a $4-billion arts and culture bailout.
U.S. museums have begun to push for a federal arts bailout as the country continues to weather the economic and social effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. TheMetropolitan Museum of Art, which has projected $100 million in losses due to the shutdown, launched a social media campaign, #CongressSaveCulture, petitioning the government for $4 billion in support “for financially at-risk non-profit arts organizations” to be included in the $2 trillion stimulus package currently working its way through Congress. Read More.

March 24

The United Arab Emirates bought $408,000 worth of art by local artists to support its creative community.
Over the past two weeks, the United Arab Emirates’ Ministry of Foreign Affairs’s Office of Public and Cultural Diplomacy has spent more than AED 1.5million ($408,314) acquiring works of art by both established and emerging Emirati artists. This gesture of solidarity with the nation’s artists comes after the COVID-19 pandemic led to the disruption and cancellation of major local art events, including the postponement of Art Dubai. Read more.

March 23

The Biennale of Sydney moved online as Australia braces for the COVID-19 pandemic.
Following the most recent guidelines set in place by Australian government officials due to COVID-19, the Biennale of Sydney is closing its public exhibitions indefinitely as of March 24th.The biennial will now be viewable online through a partnership with Google, allowing audiences around the world to engage with the exhibition through the Google Arts & Culture platform. Read more.
Art school students called for tuition refunds after classes moved online.
As art schools across the country shutter studios and classrooms and shift to online courses in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, students have banded together to demand tuition reimbursements. Artforum reported that more than 100 graduate students from the Yale School of Art have called on the school to provide a partial tuition refund in a letter addressed to the school’s president Peter Salovey and dean Marta Kuzma. Read more.

March 20

Christie’s and Phillips rescheduled their major spring auctions to a consolidated week of sales in June.
Christie’s and Phillips have announced new, consolidated dates for their biggest May sales afterrevealingearlier this week that the majority of their spring auctions would be postponed. Christie’s will combine its London and New York auctions of Impressionist and modern and post-war and contemporary art into a consolidated 20th Century Week, which will take place at the firm’s New York location from June 23rd to 26th. Phillips similarly combined its New York and London 20th Century and Contemporary Art sales into one week of auctions, scheduled for the week of June 22nd at its New York complex. Read more.
Art dealers called on New York City to provide relief to the art community during the COVID-19 pandemic.
TheNew Art Dealers Alliance (NADA) is petitioning New York City government officials to provide relief for artists, art galleries, and art workers, all of whom have been heavily impacted by the spread of COVID-19. Following the precautionary measures set in place by the city, galleries, exhibition spaces, and nonprofits have had to temporarily close their doors, and, consequently, cancel or postpone programming. Read more.

March 19

Cultural institutions in East Asia started reopening as the spread of COVID-19 slowed.
As the spread of COVID-19 slows in some East Asian countries, cultural institutions and galleries are cautiously reopening their spaces and making plans to relaunch their public programming. Read more.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art expects to lose $100 million and stay closed until July.
The Metropolitan Museum of Artprojected $100 million in losses resulting from the museum’s closure due to the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a letter leadership sent to department heads on Wednesday. The institution, which closed last week after two employees showed symptoms of the virus, may not reopen until July. Read more.

March 18

Frieze canceled its New York fair as the COVID-19 pandemic worsened.
The 2020 edition of the Frieze New York art fair, originally slated to run from May 6th to 10th, has been canceled due to the rapidly worsening COVID-19 pandemic. On Tuesday, officials in New York estimated the state’s number of cases will likely continue to increase for another 45 days (or until May 1st). On Wednesday, with the pandemic’s extended timeline becoming clearer, the organizers of the fair announced the 2020 edition of Frieze New York has been canceled. Its public art component, Frieze Sculpture, will take place at Rockefeller Center at an as-yet undetermined time in the summer. The fair is also currently developing an online viewing room platform. Read more.

March 17

Sotheby’s postponed many upcoming auctions due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Sotheby’s has updated its spring auction schedule and closed the majority of its offices in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Eight auctions have been postponed, including the Hong Kong spring sales and a run of Paris auctions originally set for late April, while 17 will still run as scheduled. Most of the still-running sales are either online or London-based; the design sale, scheduled for March 31st, will take place in New York as planned. Sotheby’s London office will also remain open to the public, and its Hong Kong office will be open by appointment, but the auction house’s offices in Dubai, Geneva, Milan, New York, Paris, and Zurich are all closed until further notice. Read more.
The Tate museums closed to help curb the spread of COVID-19.
TheTatemuseums group—the largest conglomerate of art institutions in the U.K. gathering Tate Modern, Tate Britain, Tate Liverpool, and Tate St Ives—are closing through at least May 1st due to the global COVID-19 pandemic. Tate’s trustees and director, Maria Balshaw, decided to close “for the welfare of all our visitors and staff.” Read more.

March 16

London’s hotly anticipated Artemisia Gentileschi exhibition was postponed due to COVID-19.
London’s National Gallery has decided to postpone its upcoming exhibition due to heightened fears surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic. Originally set to open on April 4th, this will be the first ever major U.K. exhibition of the Baroque master’s work. According to The Art Newspaper, gallery staff emphasized that the show will go ahead, but stated that “due to the rapidly changing worldwide situation we cannot currently give a specific date.” Read more.
Christie’s and Phillips postponed their upcoming auctions due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Christie’s and Phillips have postponed the majority of their upcoming spring sales indefinitely in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Sotheby’s, meanwhile, has yet to announce plans to close any of its galleries, salesrooms, and offices, or reschedule any of its auctions. Read more.

March 13

The Art Brussels and Art Cologne fairs were postponed because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The forthcoming editions of Art Brussels and Art Cologne have been postponed as the COVID-19 pandemic worsens. Both of the fairs were originally set to run concurrently, from April 23rd to 26th; Art Brussels has been pushed back to run June 25th to 28th, while Art Cologne will run from November 19th to 22nd. In Brazil, the forthcoming edition of SP-Arte, set to run from April 1st to 5th, has been suspended without a reopening date. Read more.
Museums in New York, Boston, and Washington, D.C. closed en masse to limit COVID-19’s spread.
Some of New York’s largest and most renowned cultural institutions announced 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. Read more.

March 12

The Metropolitan Museum will close after two employees showed symptoms of COVID-19.
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 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. Read more.
Paris Photo New York and the Dallas Art Fair were postponed because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The inaugural edition of the Paris Photo New York fair has been postponed due to growing concerns over the spread of COVID-19. The fair, originally scheduled to open April 2nd on Pier 94 in Manhattan, will take place at a later date that is still to be determined. The Dallas Art Fair has also postponed its 2020 edition, originally slated to run April 16th to 19th. The 12th edition of the Texan fair will now take place from October 1st to 4th. Read more.
After canceling its Hong Kong fair because of COVID-19, Art Basel will host virtual booths for 231 galleries.
Art Basel in Hong Kong was one of the first major art world events canceled as the COVID-19 outbreak worsened last month. The fair’s organizers subsequently said they would offer exhibitors the opportunity to showcase the works they’d intended to bring to Art Basel in Hong Kong through new online viewing rooms, for free. Art Basel announced the 231 dealers who’ve taken them up on that offer. All works in the fair’s online viewing rooms will be listed with either a specific price or a price range—their total value exceeds $250 million, according to Art Basel. Read More.

March 11

The TEFAF Maastricht fair closed early after an exhibitor tested positive for the coronavirus.
The 2020 edition of the TEFAF Maastricht art fair, which opened to VIPs on March 5th and to the general public March 7th, will close four days before its planned conclusion amidst growing fears regarding the COVID-19 epidemic. The Dutch art fair came to the decision in consultation with the city of Maastricht, the venue MECC Maastricht, and local health officials, and after it was revealed that an exhibitor who’d attended the fair last week had subsequently tested positive for COVID-19. Read more and hear from people on the ground.

March 9

Italy closed all state-run museums and cultural sites as coronavirus cases surged.
The Italian government decided to close all the country’s state-run museums and cultural sites, from the Pompeii archaeological complex to the institution hosting one of the year’s most anticipated exhibitions. The nationwide closure is set to last until April 3rd. Read more.

March 4

The Louvre reopened after closing due to staff concerns about the coronavirus.
The Louvre has reopened its doors following conversations between museum management, union officials, staff, and the Ministry of Health, after concerns about the COVID-19 outbreak forced the Paris museum to close for 2 days. Read more.

March 3

Art Dubai postponed its 2020 fair due to concerns about the coronavirus.
Art Dubai announced that the 14th edition of the art fair, set to take place from March 25th to 28th, will be postponed due to growing concerns about the coronavirus. The event will take on a new format instead and focus on holding a smaller lineup of events and exhibitions focused on the local arts scene. Read more.
Despite three galleries dropping out due to the coronavirus, the TEFAF Maastricht fair will proceed as planned.
The 33rd edition of the TEFAF Maastricht art fair will still open as scheduled, but several exhibitors have dropped out over coronavirus fears. The fair’s decision to continue comes amid increased tension over how the international art market will handle the spread of the disease. Read more.

March 2

The Louvre closed amid staff concerns about the coronavirus.
Staff members of the Louvre, the world’s most visited museum, have voted to close the institution’s doors indefinitely as fears surrounding the coronavirus continue to rise. Read more.


February:

February 24

Museums in Italy shut down amid the country’s coronavirus outbreak.
Museums in Venice, Turin, and Milan have closed as a result of the recent outbreak of COVID-19 in northern Italy. Seven Italian regions have been directed to close their museums, including Lombardy, which is home to most of the more than 200 individuals infected with the virus in Italy. The ministry of culture has also revoked free entry to state museums throughout the country, which is normally offered on the first Sunday of every month. Read more.
Sotheby’s relocated its Hong Kong auctions to New York as the coronavirus crisis worsened.
Sotheby’s is relocating its marquee spring auctions in Hong Kong to its New York City headquarters amid fears of the growing coronavirus epidemic. The move will impact the house’s evening sale of modern art and its evening and day sales of contemporary art, all now due to take place April 16th in New York; the rest of the planned Hong Kong auctions have been postponed until the first week of July. Read more.

February 20

After canceling its Hong Kong fair, Art Basel will launch online viewing rooms.
Art Basel will launch online viewing rooms in March timed to what would have been the 2020 edition of their Hong Kong fair, which was canceled earlier this month amid fears about the coronavirus outbreak. The first iteration of the initiative will run from March 20th to 25th; all the galleries that had signed up for this year’s Art Basel in Hong Kong have been invited to participate for free. Read more.

February 6

Art Basel canceled its Hong Kong fair in response to the coronavirus crisis.
Following weeks of pressure stemming from the outbreak of the deadly coronavirus in China and, before that, the ongoing pro-democracy demonstrations in Hong Kong, Art Basel’s parent company MCH Group announced on Thursday that it is canceling the 2020 edition of its Hong Kong fair. Read more.

February 5

Gallery Weekend Beijing postponed its upcoming edition due to the coronavirus outbreak.
Gallery Weekend Beijing will either postpone or cancel its 2020 edition due to concerns about the coronavirus outbreak in China. The organizers said they will make a final decision by March 15th. Read more.

February 3

Hong Kong galleries voiced support for Art Basel amid calls to cancel its local fair due to the coronavirus outbreak.
After international exhibitors called for the cancellation of Art Basel in Hong Kong due to the coronavirus outbreak, local galleries are rallying around the fair organizers and the region’s arts scene. The Hong Kong Art Gallery Association, comprising over 50 Hong Kong-based galleries, released a statement defending Art Basel and saying that overseas galleries are misinformed about the situation on the ground, in part due to sensational media reports. Read more.


January:

January 30

Gallerists called on Art Basel to cancel its Hong Kong fair due to the coronavirus outbreak.
Exhibitors at Art Basel in Hong Kong have asked the fair to cancel its upcoming eighth edition in March due to concerns about the fast-spreading coronavirus. Read more.

January 28

Museums in China and Hong Kong closed indefinitely in response to the coronavirus outbreak.
Museums in mainland China and Hong Kong are shutting down indefinitely as part of the efforts to contain the deadly coronavirus. In Hong Kong, all facilities overseen by the Leisure and Cultural Services Department (LCSD)—including the Hong Kong Museum of Art—will be closed from January 29th onward, according to a notice on LCSD’s website. Read more.
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