As concerns over the spread of the coronavirus continue throughout the world, museums in Spain, Denmark, the Netherlands, and Ireland have begun to close temporarily as a precaution.
In a statement, Spain’s Ministry of Culture and Sports ordered that all 13 national museums and arts institutions under its control—including the Prado, Reina Sofía, and the Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum, all in Madrid—close beginning Thursday. The Guggenheim Bilbao, which is not controlled by the state, said it would “remains open to visitors who want to spend a pleasant time surrounded by art.”
In Spain, there are currently around 3,000 confirmed cases of the virus, with at least 87 deaths. Additionally a cabinet member has been confirmed as being infected, and the country’s king and queen have been tested.
In its statement, the ministry said, “The adoption of these measures is subject to the evolution of this extraordinary situation and can be suspended or modified according to the guidelines of the health authorities.”
On social media, each of Madrid’s three largest museums offered alternative ways in which visitors who could not come to the museum could still experience its collections and exhibitions. The Thyssen-Bornemisza tweeted a link to a microsite it created that gives a virtual tour of its blockbuster exhibition “Rembrandt and Portraiture in Amsterdam, 1590–1670,” which opened in February and is slated to run until May 24. The museum also promoted a hashtag that translates to “Thyssen from home.”
The Reina Sofía tweeted a video showing the array of content it has online, while the Prado broadcast a live video in which its director, Miguel Falomir, gave a 20-minute talk on Tintoretto’s famed Christ Washing the Disciples’ Feet (known as El Lavatorio in Spanish) in an empty gallery.
A notice posted to the website of the Irish Museum of Modern Art said that after the museum closed to visitors on Thursday, it would remain closed through March 29. The Irish government said that all indoor events of more than 100 people and outdoor gatherings of more than 500 are to be canceled. As of Thursday, the country has 43 confirmed cases of coronavirus.
On Thursday, the Netherlands’s biggest museums also announced temporary closures. As of Wednesday, there were more than 600 coronavirus cases in the country. The closures came after a ban was placed on all gatherings of more than 100 people. Mark Rutte, prime minister of the Netherlands, said in a televised speech, “An important goal of the phased approach is to prevent such a peak in infections that would result in the hospitals being overwhelmed.”
Institutions in Denmark, where the number of cases rose to 340 as of Wednesday, have also been impacted. The Local Denmark reported that Kåre Mølbak, of the country’s national medical laboratory, said that Denmark has “extremely good control of the situation. Over the next few days, we will announce a change in approach over who is to be tested.”
The Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, which is located in Humlebaek, said in a notice on its website that it would remain closed until at least March 27. The closure is “responding to and complying with the updated regulations from the Danish authorities.”
The Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek in Copenhagen will be shuttered until at least March 30. A statement on the museum’s website reads, “Our most sincere apologies to all our guests, not least those of you who have traveled from afar to visit us.”