The deadly strain of the coronavirus, also known as COVID-19, continues to spread across the world, infecting over 90 million people and killing more than 1.9 million worldwide as of January 15, 2021.
On March 11, 2020 the World Health Organization declared the new coronavirus COVID-19 a global pandemic. Like everyone else, the art world had to take precautions. With mass gatherings bans, many art museums have closed, biennials and fairs have been canceled or postponed. Here are the updates so far, and keep an eye out for more in the coming days.
With the UK variant of the coronavirus spreading through continental Europe, France and Germany are extending their lockdowns. Germany's tough measures will now be implemented until January 31, meaning that art museums will remain closed until at least that date. Meanwhile, Italy announced a partial reopening of museums in "yellow" regions of the country, which at the moment exclude the regions of Calabria, Emilia Romagna, Lombardy, Sicily and Veneto.
The year may be new, but the difficulties imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic are ongoing. 2021 already poses many questions in regards to which events might take place in person, with some of them already pushing their dates.
As for art fairs, changes came in form of Art Düsseldorf and Art Basel Hong Kong pushing their opening dates. The German fair was originally expected to take place in November 2020 and was pushed to April 2021 because of Covid-19. The forthcoming edition’s new dates will be announced at the beginning of 2021. The Hong Kong edition of world's biggest art fair, which was scheduled to take place in March 2021, is now being pushed to May 2021, more precisely May 21 to May 23, 2021, with preview days on May 19 and May 20, at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre (HKCEC).
Frieze is also postponing its Los Angeles show from February to July; in addition, this year it will leave Paramount Studios and be dispersed across several smaller venues in the city. ARCO Madrid has the new dates set for 7-11 July. Another March fair, The European Fine Art Fair (Tefaf) has postponed its Maastricht edition (which last year proved to be a COVID hotspot), hoping to happen May 31–June 6. Their New York edition is scheduled for May 7–10.
Outsider Art Fair has just announced the participants of its first ever multi-venue event, to take place January 28, 2021 – February 7, 2021. There will be 7 curated exhibitions across 5 locations around Manhattan, alongside a robust online viewing room powered by Artlogic, showcasing 43 exhibitors from 9 countries.
Our partners BRAFA also canceled their physical Brussels edition, replacing it with a worldwide show within participating gallery spaces.
EXPO Chicago becomes the first art fair to postpone its in-person edition in 2021. After pushing the dates from September 2020 until April 2021, the organizers are now planning for the end of the year, with exact dates to be announced.
Art Dubai is one of the very few (if not the only) art fair that it will go ahead with a live, in person event, from 17 to 20 March.
In a statement to The Art Newspaper, Documenta's general director Sabine Schormann says that the 22nd edition of the show will likely be postponed due to the pandemic. While the preparations are ongoing, the travel ban is imposing difficulties. The decision on the postponement, however, will not be made until the summer. Documenta 15 is currently scheduled from June 8 to September 25, 2022 in the Germany city of Kassel.
As reported by artnet News, the French government will offer around 2 million € ($2.4 million) worth of aid directly to struggling midsize galleries. It comes as part of a new budget for culture by the National Center for the Visual Arts (CNAP) of 3.8 million € ($4.6 million) for 2021. Another portion of it will also go to individual arts professionals and projects.
The art galleries receiving the help are primary-market contemporary art galleries with the annual turnover between 80,000€ and €800,000€ ($97,216 and $972,168).
As reported by The Art Newspaper, the French Louvre museum in Paris, one of the first major art museums to close amid the pandemic in March 2020, experienced a 72% drop in attendance last year. The institution was open only 161 out of the usual 311 business days a year, reportedly losing 90 million € (about $110.3 million) in revenue. A total of 2.7 million people went to the museum in 2020.
In a press release, the Dutch Rijksmuseum reported a 75% drop in attendance in 2020 - 675,000 people visited the institution, compared to 2019's audience of 2.7 million. This is the lowest figure since 1964. On the other hand, Rijksmuseum had a total reach of 78 million people through its media channels, and the number of people following it on social media rose by 23%.
Since November 20, 2020, art museums in Philadelphia, PA have been closed due to the new corona-combatting measures. The time has finally come to reopen, in particular for these six venues in the following order: The Franklin Institute plans to reopen on January 6, followed by the Academy of Natural Sciences, The Barnes Foundation, and The Philadelphia Museum of Art on January 8. PAFA plans to reopen on Thursday, January 21. All plans and reopening dates are subject to change based on guidance from state and city officials.