The Met closes in response to spread of coronavirus in New York

The Met, MoMA and Guggenheim close in response to spread of coronavirus in New York

New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art, MoMA and Guggenheim museums have closed indefinitely in a bid to contain the spread of coronavirus in the city.

The Met was the first to announce that it will shutter its main building on Fifth Avenue, as well as its Met Breuer and Met Cloisters locations, on Friday 13 March.

"The Met's priority is to protect and support our staff, volunteers, and visitors," said Daniel Weiss, the Met’s president and chief executive in a statement.

The Met to "undertake a thorough cleaning"

MoMA and the Solomon R Guggenheim museum revealed shortly after that they too would shut in a bid to maintain the spread of response to outbreaks of COVID-19 coronavirus. New York City had 62 confirmed cases at the time of The Met's announcement.

The Met, which revealed the news on 12 March, said in a statement that it intends to "undertake a thorough cleaning" of the museum buildings. It added that the closures are expected to last for several weeks.

According to a report by The New York Times, The Met had two members of staff who showed symptoms of the virus, although neither have been confirmed.

"While we don't have any confirmed cases connected to the museum, we believe that we must do all that we can to ensure a safe and healthy environment for our community, which at this time calls for us to minimise gatherings while maintaining the cleanest environment possible," Weiss said.

Guggenheim and MoMA also close

The Met's main location on Fifth Avenue, which just opened its British Galleries redesigned by local firm Roman and Williams, is joined by two other outposts in the city.

They include Marcel Breuer-designed Met Breuer building on the Upper East Side and The Cloisters museum in Fort Tryon Park in the Washington Heights neighbourhood in north Manhattan.

The institution was the first museum in the city to announce its closure in response to the coronavirus outbreak.

Solomon R Guggenheim, which just opened Rem Koolhaas' Countryside, The Future exhibition, announced its closure shortly afterwards. The museum's director Richard Armstrong described the decision as "prudent and necessary".

"We have made this decision in consultation with New York-area peer institutions," Armstrong said. "We hope that in the coming weeks we can once again invite visitors to enjoy the museum."

MoMA, which is showcasing Neri Oxman's body of works, also followed suit. "Nothing is more important to MoMA than the health and safety of our community," Glenn D Lowry, The David Rockefeller director, said in a statement. "We take seriously our responsibility as a civic institution to serve the public good."

US institutions respond to virus outbreaks

The museums are the latest US institutions to respond to the virus as it continues to spread across the country.

US schools including Harvard UniversityStanford University, Columbia University and Yale University are suspending in-person lessons and switching to digital learning materials and lectures.

They form part of a number of institutions and studios forced to take activities online to avoid real-world interactions.

Conferences and events across North America have also been cancelled, postponed or moved to digital formats. The Toronto technology conference Collision, the South by Southwest (SXSW) festival in Austin have all decided to replace their physical events with virtual versions, while Californian music festival Coachella has been postponed from April to October.

Photograph by Arad, courtesy of Wikipedia.