New York’s major museums and cultural institutions have temporarily closed on Friday to help contain the spread of the coronavirus.
These include the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Whitney Museum of American Art, and the Guggenheim, among others.
The closures were announced on Thursday, and signal increased efforts towards “social distancing” in the US – along with the cancellation or postponement of music festivals such Coachella and sporting events such college basketball's March Madness – as the number of cases in the country rises to 1,663 at the time of writing.
The Met has shut down its three locations in New York and will implement cleaning measures during the closure. The museum was preparing to mark its 150th anniversary with an exhibition opening at the end of the month.
Though it has not announced a reopening date, the museum stated that it will share “next steps” early next week. In the recent past, it has only closed twice: after the September 11 attacks in 2001 and Hurricane Sandy in 2012.
MoMA has also closed all its locations, including MoMA PS1 and MoMA Design Stores. On its website, the museum stated that it will remain closed until March 30, and will “reevaluate the situation at that time.”
The American Museum of Natural History, The Brooklyn Museum, The Frick Collection, the Neue Galerie have also shuttered, along with blue-chip galleries such as Hauser & Wirth, Pace Gallery and Gagosian Gallery.
Across the city, cultural venues and entertainment events are also confronting the consequences of the pandemic. The Broadway League announced the suspension of all performances in Broadway shows until April 12 after the New York Governor Andrew Cuomo banned gatherings of more than 500 people.
Performances at the Metropolitan Opera, Carnegie Hall and The New York Philharmonic have also been cancelled through March 31.
Elsewhere in the US, cities like Boston have also closed a number of museums. The Smithsonian Institution has closed all its museums in Washington DC and New York, including its National Zoo.