Museums across the globe cautiously reopen

13 May 2020

MMCA Seoul. Photo: Jinho Jung, Flickr.

Originally published by Artforum May 8, 2020.

As the rate of new Covid-19 infections has slowed in certain parts of the world, museums in Germany, Hong Kong, South Korea, and Switzerland have begun to reopen their doors. Many are following recommendations for ensuring visitor safety released by the International Committee for Museums and Collections of Modern Art. The guidelines are based on policies implemented by the National Gallery Singapore, M+ Hong Kong, and the Mori Art Museum in March and include temperature screenings of all visitors, visitor registration, limiting large groups, and maintaining social distancing between individuals.

In Germany, state museums such as Berlin’s Pergamon, Alte Nationalgalerie, and Gemäldegalerie will reopen on May 12, with visitors in almost all cases required to book an allotted time slot online. The Schirn Kunsthalle in Frankfurt opened this week on May 6, as did the Städel Museum, and most galleries across the country were allowed to reopen in the last week of April.

The Hong Kong Museum of Art (HKMoA) partially reopened this week, implementing a daily admission system that will allow patrons to enter for two-hour slots. Tickets will be issued on-site, where public programs and tour guides are still being suspended. Six exhibitions, including the British landscape painting show “A Sense of Place: from Turner to Hockney,” are currently on view. The museum closed on January 29, briefly reopened on March 11, and closed again shortly thereafter. According to CNN, Hong Kong has only reported fifteen new cases since April 20.

In South Korea, all four of the National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, Korea (MMCA), branches in Cheongju, Deoksugung, Gwacheon, and Seoul—which have been closed since February 24—have reopened. The nation’s number of new Covid-19 cases dropped to thirteen last week, and zero new domestic infections have been reported for the third straight day this week. The number of admitted visitors will be strictly limited through an online booking system, with similar visitor safety measures being followed as in Hong Kong.

In Switzerland, where the Swiss Federal Council announced that museums would be allowed to accept visitors in the second week of May, the Foundation Beyeler near Basel is reopening on Monday, May 11. Its Edward Hopper exhibition, organized in conjunction with the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York, opened on January 26 and is now extended through July 26. The Kunstmuseum Bern, the Paul Klee Center, and the Museum Rietberg will reopen on Tuesday, May 12, and the Kunsthaus Zurich will welcome visitors on May 15.