As museums have closed in cycles in an effort to stall the spread of the coronavirus around the world, the most significant arts institutions in Australia hoped to avoid such a fate. But now they too have announced plans to close.
As of Monday, notices of closures have been sent by museums including the Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art (QAGOMA) in South Brisbane, the National Museum of Australia in Canberra, and all the venues of the Biennale of Sydney.
In its statement, the National Museum cited the “National Cabinet’s direction to limit non-essential gatherings and the requirement to implement social distancing, to help mitigate the risk posed by the virus.” The museum also said it would delay the opening of its upcoming exhibition “Endeavour Voyage: The Untold Stories of Cook and the First Australians,” which was to debut in April.
As of last week, the Biennale of Sydney—which opened March 14 and was scheduled to continue with more than 700 works by 101 artists and collectives into June—had resisted closing its doors, saying that organizers were actively monitoring the situation and had instituted new cleaning protocols to help stymie the spread of the disease during “one of the most important cultural events of 2020.”
After announcing the Biennial’s early closure, organizers said they would partner with Google Arts & Culture to create “a virtual Biennale will bring the exhibition and programs to life through live content, virtual walk-throughs, podcasts, interactive Q&As, curated tours and artist takeovers.”
In its statement, the Biennale said, “We will continue to adapt and innovate in the face of this global crisis. Our doors close across Sydney, and they will open online for everyone, everywhere across the world. … The Biennale remains artist-led and will allow our artists to lead the way in responding to the urgent social, political, and environmental issues we are facing today.”