Coronavirus: the celebrated artworks around the world closed off from the public

From Paris to Tokyo, art institutions are shuttering their doors to avoid the rise of infections

The 'Mona Lisa' attracts a lot of visitors to Paris's Louvre, but the museum is currently closed amid coronavirus infection fears. AFP
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Leonardo da Vinci's Mona Lisa is the latest artwork to be closed off to the public amid the coronavirus outbreak. In a sudden move, staff at Paris's Louvre Museum voted to keep doors shut on Sunday, leaving visitors waiting outside the entrance in vain.

As Covid-19 continues to spread across Europe, with mounting cases in Italy, France and the UK, museums are following the way of their Asian counterparts – closing indefinitely to minimise the chances of infection.

The Louvre, which is the most visited in the world, houses other masterpieces such the Venus de Milo, Eugene Delacroix's Liberty Leading the People and Theodore Gericault's The Raft of the Medusa.

According to the World Health Organisation, France had 100 confirmed cases, as of Sunday, March 1; while Italy has been hit the hardest in Europe, with more than 1,100 cases confirmed. In Venice, Turin and Milan, private and public institutions have followed orders from Italy's Ministry of Health to close for a week. Another Leonardo work, The Last Supper, is currently inaccessible to the public as the Santa Maria delle Grazie in Milan remains closed.

The Last Supper (1490s). It is one of the world's most recognisable paintings. The mural is housed by the refectory of the Convent of Santa Maria delle Grazie in Milan.
Leonardo di Vinci's 'The Last Supper' (1490s). The mural is housed by the refectory of the Convent of Santa Maria delle Grazie in Milan, which has been closed due to the virus.

Venice's Peggy Guggenheim Collection, which boasts an impressive inventory of European and American Art from the 20th century, is set to reopen on today (Monday, March 2), though the situation may change. Among the works on view are Salvador Dali's Birth of Liquid Desires and Constantin Brancusi's Bird in Space.

epa01035733 The art work 'Fragments' (2005) of Ai Weiwei, represented by the gallery Urs Meile (Luzern), is shown at the exhibition 'Art Unlimited', in the context of the international art show Art38 Basel, in Basel, Switzerland, 11 June  2007. Art38 Basel features about 300 leading art galleries from 30 countries on all continents.  EPA/GEORGIOS KEFALAS *** Local Caption *** 01035733
Ai Weiwei's 'Fragments' (2005) shown at Art Basel in Switzerland in 2007.

Turin's Museo Ettore Fico cancelled its exhibition opening of Massimo Vitali's works. Chinese artist Ai Weiwei was meant to make an appearance for an artist talk at Castello di Rivoli, but the event was live-streamed instead. His monumental work Fragments is part of the institution's show Facing the Collector: The Sigg Collection of Contemporary Art from China.

'Sunflowers', Vincent van Gogh (1888) was previously exhibited at The National Gallery in London, but is now under quarantine in Tokyo, Japan.
'Sunflowers', Vincent van Gogh (1888) was previously exhibited at The National Gallery in London, but is now under quarantine in Tokyo, Japan.

In Asia, Vincent van Gogh's Sunflowers has been placed under quarantine after arriving in Tokyo from London on Friday. The painting came to Japan as part of the travelling exhibition Masterpieces from the National Gallery, London, which was due to open on Tuesday, March 3, but has been postponed until Monday, March 16. If the painting does go on view, it will be the first time it will be seen in Japan.

The show includes 60 paintings from the Italian Renaissance to the early 20th century, with works such as Rembrandt's Self-Portrait at the Age of 34 and William Turner's Ulysses Deriding Polyphemus.

RPD1CM Rembrandt, self Portrait at the age of 34, 1640, painting
Rembrandt's 'Self-portrait at the Age of 34' (1640)

These works are now in the quarantine section of the National Museum of Western Art in Tokyo. The rest of Japan’s national museums have been instructed by the government to remain closed for two weeks.

South Korea, which has the second highest number of infections after China at 3,736 cases, has also shuttered its museums. The Leeum, Samsung Museum of Art is one of them. Permanent exhibitions with the works by Andy Warhol, Jean-Michel Basquiat and Lee Bull, as well as a number of traditional Korean art pieces, sit in the dark as no reopening dates have been confirmed.