With the coronavirus continuing to force biennials, museums, and institutions to postpone or call off programming, a major art fair in Europe has taken a drastic measure of closing early. TEFAF Maastricht in the Netherlands—which opened last Saturday and had been scheduled to run through March 15—will close on Wednesday after the last visitors leave at 7 p.m., according to an announcement released this afternoon.
The decision to close came just hours after the Art Newspaper reported that an exhibitor at the fair had tested positive for coronavirus. The exhibitor was not identified in the report, though the Art Newspaper said the exhibitor is “believed to be an Italian Modern art dealer.”
According to TEFAF, the decision was made in collaboration with authorities in Maastricht. “Given the recent developments in the regions around Maastricht and increasing concerns, we no longer feel it is appropriate to continue as planned,” Nanne Dekking, the chairman of TEFAF’s board, said in a statement.
[See a complete guide to the coronavirus’s impact on museums, fairs, and more around the world.]
No other art fair to date has moved as swiftly in reacting to the coronavirus as TEFAF. When Art Basel Hong Kong revealed that it would call off its 2020 edition, scheduled for mid-March, it came after weeks of exhibitors calling on the fair to offer steeper discounts, with some even pulling out entirely. (Art Basel’s Hong Kong fair is now being replaced by online viewing rooms set for later this month; the main Art Basel fair in Switzerland is still slated for June.)
Earlier this month, three of the 285 exhibitors set to participate in TEFAF Maastricht—Wildenstein and Co. (of New York), Fergus McCaffrey (New York), and Galerie Monbrison (Paris)—pulled out.
Many other art fairs are currently weighing the ramifications of postponements and cancelations. With a lockdown in effect in Italy, Miart in Milan, one of the biggest fairs in the country, has been pushed from mid-April to the fall. Meanwhile, Art Dubai has indefinitely postponed this year’s edition.
As of Tuesday, there were some 382 confirmed cases of the coronavirus in the Netherlands—a number lower than many neighboring countries.