The Centre Pompidou in Paris may be reconsidering plans to open a satellite branch in Seoul due to the novel coronavirus. The Art Newspaper reports that the institution has been engaged in negotiations over the South Korean outpost since 2016 and was on the “point of signing” an agreement that would have moved the project forward. The project will at least be stalled until the global health crisis is over.

On Monday, South Korea announced that it will require all individuals who enter the country from the United States, the current epicenter of the pandemic, and Europe to quarantine for a period of two weeks. The move came after the country confirmed that it saw a decline in the number of infected—it reported 105 new cases on Saturday and only seventy-eight cases on Sunday, which marked the eighteenth consecutive day that the total of new cases was around 100 or fewer—but a rise in the number of individuals who are arriving from overseas. 

Citizens are still being strongly urged to remain in their homes, unless they need to leave or report to work for essential needs or jobs. The nation’s total number of infections is over 9,660. While South Korea is one of only two countries that has been able to flatten the curve of the virus, the number of COVID-19 cases in the country peaked at the end of February, they are still at risk of a resurgence of the virus.

“The lockdown comes after a dramatic expansion of [our activities],” Pompidou’s president Serge Lasvignes told the Art Newspaper—the French institution currently maintains branches in Málaga, Spain; Metz, France; and Shanghai, China. The Pompidou is also working to open an “art factory” in the city of Massy, about fourteen miles south of Paris, in the Île-de-France area, in 2025 as well as a location in Brussels in 2022.

The Pompidou’s branch in the David Chipperfield–designed West Bund Art Museum in Shanghai, which opened in November, began welcoming visitors again on March 20, following the country’s period of lockdown and strict social distancing policies. Lasvignes said: “We were delighted to send in our teams for the reopening which can resume programming for the Chinese public who can discover again our collection.” 


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