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Arts Institutions Brace for Hurricane Irma Impact

Satellite image of Hurricane Irma over the Atlantic Ocean.

NOAA/COURTESY CREATIVE COMMONS

Just days after the Gulf Coast began what is likely to be along period of reconstruction and recovery following the havoc wrecked by Hurricane Harvey, a new Category 5 storm named Hurricane Irma is barreling across the Atlantic Ocean, with damage already in the Caribbean and the prospect of direct impact on Florida forecasted for this weekend.

Many museums are once again in the line of the storm, and officials have been taking measures to brace for winds, rain, and flooding. Throughout Miami, institutions announced Wednesday that they planned to close in anticipation of the storm. The Pérez Art Museum Miami said that it will stay shut from Thursday, September 7, through Sunday, September 10, in anticipation of the storm. The Margulies at the Warehouse, in Miami’s Wynwood Arts District, is closed already and will remain so for the remainder of the week. The nonprofit Dimensions Variable also announced that it closed and cancelled scheduled events in anticipation of the storm. “Thanks Irma,” it said in an email statement.

ARTnews has contacted other arts institutions in the area and this post will be updated as more information becomes available.

Updates:

— Wednesday, September 6, 12 p.m.: Yetzenia Y. Álvarez, a spokesperson for the Museo de Arte de Puerto Rico outside of San Juan, emailed ARTnews to say that the museum is closed and has taken precautions to protect the building and its collection. “Last Friday we activated the emergency plan and on Monday we began to work to protect the collections and structure of the museum,” Álvarez said. “Micro-climates were sealed in secured galleries and artworks that could be in danger were relocated to safer spaces. All steps of the emergency plan have been properly followed, hoping that no major damage will occur and that we fully protect the heritage that we hold at the MAPR.”

— Wednesday, September 6, 1:50 p.m.: Gallerist Nina Johnson, whose namesake shop in Miami was slated to have an opening tomorrow, wrote to say, “At the moment we have locked up and taken all necessary precautions per our insurer and local government suggestions. We are wishing for the best and hoping we can reschedule the R.M. Fischer opening for next week.”

— Wednesday, September 6, 2:35 p.m.: The Institute of Contemporary Art in Miami will close today at 3 p.m. today so that its staff can prepare for the storm.

— Wednesday, September 6, 2:35 p.m.: The Bass Museum of Art in Miami Beach decided to de-install Sylvie Fleury’s Eternity Now (2015), a 30-foot-long sculpture bearing its title in neon lights that usually hangs on the museum’s facade. “Extreme weather is a concern we take very seriously at the Bass,” the museum’s executive director, Silvia Karman Cubiñá, wrote in an email. “Our number-one priority is ensuring that our staff and community are prepared for this event and we hope everyone remains safe during and after the storm.”

— Thursday, September 7, 3 p.m.: The National Endowment for the Humanities issued an announcement urging institutions affected by Hurricanes Harvey and Irma to apply for “fast-track emergency grants to preserve and protect humanities collections at libraries, museums, colleges, universities, historical societies, and other cultural organizations.” Committed to issuing $1 million for such purposes, the NEH said its Chairman’s Emergency Grants can amount to as much as $30,000 to “preserve documents, books, photographs, art works, historical objects, sculptures, and structures” damaged by the hurricanes and subsequent flooding. Application information is available here.

— Tuesday, September 12, 4 p.m.: Institutions throughout Florida remained closed as officials worked to restore the operation of infrastructure throughout the state and people who evacuated returned to their homes and businesses. The Pérez in Miami was planning to reopen Wednesday, September 13, while others had not yet set a definite date. Kathleen van Bergen, the CEO and president of the multidisciplinary arts center Artis–Naples, in hard-hit southwestern portion of the state, told ARTnews, “Until full power is restored, a complete inspection is not possible, nor is a return to our scheduled cultural activities. We look forward to returning to our mission as soon as is safely possible.” However, van Bergen said that the buildings on its campus, which include the Baker Museum, appeared to have faired well in the storm and she praised her staff. “We are extremely relieved to find that our Artis—Naples colleagues have emerged safely in hurricane Irma’s wake,” she said. “These dedicated folks were the ones who helped enact our emergency preparedness plan at the same time they worked to secure their own homes and families in the days prior to evacuation and landfall.” The Tampa Museum of Art, about 160 miles north of Naples, also reported that its building held up well in the storm. Today members of the its team were at work reinstalling pieces that had been removed as the storm advanced, and the plan was to reopen on Wednesday, September 13, at 11 a.m.

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