While officials continue to try to contain the spread of the coronavirus, which has killed nearly 500 people in China, according to recent estimates, one of Beijing’s biggest art events has postponed its 2020 edition—and may be forced to cancel it altogether if conditions do not improve.
On Wednesday, Gallery Weekend Beijing, an event that was scheduled for March, said it would delay its 2020 edition in compliance with safety recommendations from officials in China. If conditions improve, the event will now be held in mid-April. If they do not, the event’s organizers said, Gallery Weekend Beijing will be canceled for this year. A final decision on when—and whether—Gallery Weekend Beijing will transpire this year will come by March 15.
“In order to prevent the spread of the virus, the Gallery Weekend Beijing team has been working remotely as of 1 February,” a statement put out by the event reads. “Facing this major threat to public health, all members of the team will fully cooperate with prevention and control measures while still working online with the utmost efficiency.”
The news comes after one of Gallery Weekend Beijing ‘s major attractions—the opening of the X Museum, a new private museum in Beijing from collector Michael Xufu Huang and businesswoman Theresa Tse—delayed its March opening.
Gallery Weekend Beijing is the biggest art event so far to be called off because of the coronavirus. Many are currently awaiting word about the 2020 edition of Art Basel Hong Kong, which is currently set to run from March 19 to 21. Although some gallerists have called on the fair to cancel this year’s edition, a few Hong Kong spaces have voiced support for holding the event in spite of the coronavirus and the ongoing protests.
Beyond Beijing, other galleries, museums, and art events have also postponed shows and openings amid the coronavirus scare. The inaugural edition of February’s CAFAM Techne Triennial was postponed last month, with no new opening date immediately announced. The He Art Museum, a new private museum in Foshan, also said it would no longer open in March, and David Zwirner revealed that a planned Luc Tuymans show that was originally going to appear at its Hong Kong space would be headed to a different one of its galleries instead. The Design Shanghai fair, which was slated for March, was moved to late May as well.
“We would like to warmly remind friends, colleagues, and visitors to stay safe, wear masks, and wash your hands frequently to protect your own health and that of your family,” Gallery Weekend Beijing said in its statement. “Thank you for supporting Gallery Weekend Beijing and for your anticipation of our program. We will continue to present the most compelling exhibitions and events in Beijing when the epidemic ends.”