The Art World Has Become The Latest Victim Of Coronavirus

02 March 2020
Health, Coronavirus, Wuhan, China, NCovid-19, Covid-19, Coronavirus Outbreak, WHO, Paris, France, The Louvre
Image: Getty

With the Louvre and a Van Gogh icon having already felt the effects of forced closure and quarantine, the epidemic is claiming cultural casualties across the world

What started as a little known virus has since become a buzzword in the news cycle; a scientific term that when uttered in the workplace raises grave concern and, should public discourse be believed, mass hysteria. In the space of a few months, the coronavirus has edged ever closer to becoming a pandemic, which, as defined by the World Health Organisation (WHO), relates to “the worldwide spread of a new disease”.

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What originated in the Chinese province of Wuhan has spread with alarming speed to far corners of the globe. Just recently, Australia recorded the first death from coronavirus with the tragic passing of James Kwan who became infected while on board the Diamond Princess cruise ship. Meanwhile, Italy has reported a 50 per cent rise in coronavirus cases as the WHO says the outbreak has reached the “highest level” of risk. As many brace for the worst possible outcome of the virus, businesses and industries around the world are reeling from the impact.

While the world of tech and fashion have been forced to close, with many claiming that this will have a significant impact on quarterly earnings, the art world has become the latest industry to suffer at the hands of the coronavirus.

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According to CNN, the world’s largest art museum has become the latest to shut down as France deals with at least 100 cases of coronavirus and two deaths. A statement from the Louvre said, “The Louvre cannot open this Sunday, March 1. Museum staff met to discuss the health situation and the Covid-19 prevention measures taken by the museum following instructions from the competent authorities.”

The decision comes after the French government issued an order cancelling all public gatherings of more than 5,000 people within confined spaces. That forced the cancellation of the Paris Half Marathon over the weekend, too, while in Italy, Milan's Salone del Mobile, the biggest interior design festival in the world was postponed.

Even paintings aren’t safe from the virus, with Vincent van Gogh’s Sunflowers facing quarantine in Tokyo. The painting was travelling from London’s National Gallery to Tokyo’s National Museum of Western Art where it was to be part of the “Masterpieces from the National Gallery, London” exhibition set to open March 3. Although Sunflowers was said to have been the major highlight of the exhibition, Japan’s Ministry of Culture has ordered a two-week closure of all national art museums, meaning some of the most prized works of Europe now remain in the Japanese museum’s quarantine section, with extended closure being a high possibility. The National Gallery said in a statement, “We are consulting closely with our partners...we hope that the exhibition will be able to open on 17 March 2020, or as soon as possible after that.”

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As countries around the world race to contain the virus, it seems the impact of coronavirus can’t be underestimated and is only going to worsen in the coming months. Here’s everything you need to know about the virus.


Via GQ Australia