Raphael dons a face mask (edit by Jasmine Weber for Hyperallergic)

From museums and galleries to theaters and concert venues, it’s an unavoidable fact that some of the most moving experiences of art often involve being in crowded spaces. The novel coronavirus has thus posed a special challenge to art institutions around the world, and their efforts to contain its spread are impressive. Here’s out latest on the coronavirus’ effect on the arts, updated daily.

3/9/2020 5:51pm EDT:

  • In Italy, the country with the second-largest outbreak after China, the government has shuttered all museums and heritage sites, including the Colosseum, the Pompeii archaeological park, and the Vatican Museums. The unsparing government decree will be in place until April 3. Among the hardest hit by the measures is the Scuderie del Quirinale in Rome, which had pre-sold 60,000 tickets for its recently opened exhibition Raffaello 1520-1483. Organized to coincide with the 500th anniversary of Raphael’s death, the show features more than 200 works by the Italian master painter.
  • In New York City, all Armory Week fairs were able to move forward as scheduled, but as the number of diagnosed cases in the state continues to climb — 142 confirmed as of this morning — the art world is inevitably looking ahead to Frieze. A spokesperson for the fair told Hyperallergic that it is proceeding with preparations for its New York edition, slated to open on Thursday, May 7, but will be “monitoring the situation closely in partnership with local, state and federal health officials. The 1-54 Contemporary African Art Fair, also opening in May in New York, does not yet have plans to cancel either.
  • The Venice Architecture Biennale, which originally planned to proceed with its May opening, has now been delayed three months. The new dates for the show are August 29 – November 29.
  • In an Instagram post, artist and activist Ai Weiwei communicated that rehearsals for his new production of Turandot at the Teatro dell’Opera di Roma had suffered a “sudden death” due to the coronavirus crisis in Italy. “The fate of this opera is just like the fate of the current struggle in this time of globalization and involvement with China. The true tragedy is yet to come,” he added.
  • South by Southwest (SXSW), the annual film, tech, and music festivals in Austin, Texas, have also been canceled; in concerning news, the company’s insurance does not cover disease-related cancellations, so the move may significantly impact SXSW’s finances.
  • After staffers at the Louvre Museum in Paris walked off the job and voted to close the institution in order to protect its 2,300 workers, the Louvre has reopened but “is taking measures to limit the number of people in the museum,” according to its website. Only visitors with pre-booked e-tickets or those entitled to free admission will be guaranteed entry (previously, the Louvre had banned cash payments, as banknotes change hands frequently and can contribute to the virus’s spread.)
  • The MFA in Studio Art department at Hunter College in New York City has canceled its Open Studios, a highly anticipated event that brings thousands to its 205 Hudson building in Tribeca. Meanwhile, many universities across the country are putting in-person classes on pause. Higher education institutions including Columbia, Fordham, Hofstra, Princeton, Stanford, Seattle, Yeshiva, and the University of Washington will either cancel classes altogether or migrate them to online platforms.
  • Last Thursday, Palestinian authorities closed the Nativity Church in the biblical city of Bethlehem in the West Bank — a tourist hotspot, especially in the upcoming Easter holiday season. The coronavirus outbreak is affecting places and forms of worship worldwide: in the United States, some dioceses are asking for ceremonies that involve physical touch, such as the exchange of peace, to be halted until the outbreak is over.
  • In the face of a canceled Art Basel Hong Kong and ongoing health and political crises, Hong Kong’s art community has launched ART Power HK, an online platform that will allow galleries, museums, and auction houses to exhibit art virtually. Online viewing rooms, recorded and live-streamed exhibitions and studio visits, interviews, and talks are all part of its programming.

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