As the novel coronavirus, COVID-19, has continued to spread, people around the globe have taken precautions to help lessen its reach. In its wake, a number of museums and exhibitions have been left shuttered as the pressure of the pandemic continues to be felt. One of the most recent shows to take precautionary action is the Biennale Architettura 2020 that was set to begin at the end of May.
In a March 4th announcement, La Biennale stated that the show will go on but not until August. ‘The new dates for the Biennale Architettura have been established as a consequence of the recent precautionary measures in the matter of mobility taken by the governments of a growing number of countries around the world, which will have a domino effect on the movement of people and works in coming weeks,’ read the press release. La Biennale emphasizes that its decision to postpone the fair comes sooner rather than later to safeguard its quality and to help exhibitions, from more than 60 countries, plan accordingly.
Now, the 17th International Architecture Exhibition (somewhat fittingly titled ‘How will we live together?) will run from August 29th, with a preview on the 27th and 28th of August, through November 29th. Its new start date will be just days before the start of the 77th Venice International Film Festival meaning the two festivals will run simultaneously, something that La Biennale hopes will ‘offer Venice and the world a moment of great cultural interest and international appeal.’
If the fairs pan out as planned, they could greatly help a city that has faced a lot of stressors in recent months as relentless flooding gave way to the impact of COVID-19. Last month, as the virus seized northern Italy, Paola Beroldo, who sells Murano glass jewelry in the Santa Croce district of the city, told The Guardian that the city was like a ghost town. ‘I don’t know how we can manage this time,’ continued Beroldo. ‘This is the last nail in the coffin.’
Of course, Italy isn’t the only place where museums and exhibitions have felt the world’s reaction to the novel coronavirus. Tate has extended a loan of over 70 works, including some by Turner, Constable, and David Hockney, to Hong Kong’s Museum of Art through May. The Hong Kong Museum of Art, like many others, has been closed amid the crisis and many exhibitions sit vacant as mandatory precautions continue.
In the UK, museums are monitoring the virus’ spread and a few, including the Victoria & Albert Museum and British Museum, have added advisories to their websites stating that they are keeping an eye on the situation and following the instruction of Public Health England. As for museum employees who might be affected by closures, not all museums have made public statements as to how part-time staff will be paid but some, like National Museums Liverpool, have already announced that they will be paid. In other cases, like the National Gallery, those who choose to self-isolate will not be penalized, nor will their isolation period be counted as paid sick leave.