How COVID-19 Is Affecting the World’s Cultural Institutions
by Katherine J. Wu/Smithsonianmag.com
With confirmed cases of COVID-19 now numbering well above 110,000, health officials have begun to advise a heightened awareness of people’s social surroundings. Crowds, clamor and even close conversation can elevate one’s chance of becoming infected with the SARS-CoV-2 virus, which spreads via the droplets produced by coughs and sneezes. As a result, public gatherings, tourist attractions, and cultural institutions are among the riskiest places to be as the infection spreads.
In response to the growing threat, museums and theaters across the globe have shuttered their doors, while event planners have canceled festivals and fairs, all in hopes of keeping potential patrons safe.
Though some institutions have come up with creative ways to keep visitors engaged—including trialing virtual versions of shows and exhibitions—many worries about the outbreak’s lasting fallout.
“The loss of performances can be devastating,” Jan Newcomb, executive director of the National Coalition for Arts’ Preparedness and Emergency Response, tells Julia Jacobs of the New York Times. “Organizations sometimes don’t recover.”
Stricken by more than 80,000 confirmed COVID-19 cases and counting, mainland China, where the virus was first detected last December, has indefinitely closed several of its largest museums…