A day filled with news of museums across the world closing in an attempt to contain the coronavirus’s spread was capped by similar announcements by several major American institutions. On Thursday night, the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Whitney Museum in New York, the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., the Guggenheim Museum in New York, and the Smithsonian Institution, which operates museums in New York and Washington, D.C., all said they would close in the coming days.
The Museum of Modern Art revealed on social media that it would the institution and all related operations—including its satellite museum, MoMA PS1 in Queens—would close starting on March 13. On March 30, the museum will reevaluate the situation.
The Whitney said it would close at 5 p.m. on Friday and reassess the situation on March 27. “Our highest priority is the safety and wellbeing of our staff, volunteers, and visitors during this time,” the museum said in a statement. “We look forward to reopening to our staff and community as soon as possible.”
The National Gallery will be closed from Saturday onward, and will tentatively reopen on April 4. Earlier this week, the museum postponed a blockbuster exhibition of Genoese Baroque art from the 17th century as it became clear that loans from important international venues may become difficult to secure. That show was slated for May and has not been given a new opening date.
The Guggenheim Museum will on Friday for an indefinite period of time. Richard Armstrong, the museum’s director, said, “Though we have suspended staff travel, increased our on-site sanitization procedures, and advocated social distancing policies, we feel it is now prudent and necessary to close the New York museum and our office locations to reduce the escalation of community spread.” All events at the institution that were to be held between now and April 30 are canceled or postponed.
The Smithsonian Institution said it will shutter 19 museums in Washington, D.C. and two in New York. Among those set to close as part of the effort on Saturday are some of the most important museums in Washington, D.C., including the Smithsonian American Art Museum, the National Museum of African American History and Culture, and the National Portrait Gallery, as well as New York’s Cooper-Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum and the American Indian Museum. A reopening date was not specified.