The exhibition galleries at the California African American Museum in Los Angeles remain open to visitors, but public programs are postponed until further notice.

 

CITING SOCIAL DISTANCING GUIDELINES from the California Department of Public Health designed “to slow the rate of transmission of COVID-19,” the California African American Museum (CAAM) in Los Angeles cancelled a free event with Terence Blanchard planned for Thursday evening. The celebrated trumpeter and composer was invited to discuss his storied career, including his longstanding collaboration with filmmaker Spike Lee, which dates back to “Jungle Fever” in 1991. Hamza Walker, executive director of Laxart, was scheduled to be in conversation with Blanchard.

Through the end of March, CAAM announced it is cancelling or postponing all public programs, facility rentals, and group tours until further notice. The museum’s galleries, however, remain open during regular hours. Current exhibitions include “Sula Bermúdez-Silverman: Neither Fish, Flesh, nor Fowl,” “Cross Colours: Black Fashion in the 20th Century,” and “Dust My Broom: Southern Vernacular from the Permanent Collection.”

Located at the University of Maryland, College Park, where campus operations have been “reduced” from March 13-April 10, the David C. Driskell Center will close beginning today, March 13. Driskell Center events are cancelled at least through April 15, when a lecture by Huey Copeland had been scheduled. A Northwestern University art historian, Copeland won the 2019 Driskell Prize.

In Brooklyn, the Museum of Contemporary African Diasporan Arts (MoCADA) is closed until further notice and all on- and off-site programming is also postponed until further notice. In Harlem, the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture has suspended public programming through March 31, while the library remains open during regular hours. The Apollo Theater in Harlem canceled events through March 31.

During the construction of its new building, the Studio Museum in Harlem has been organizing off-site programming. A March 12 talk with artists Titus Kaphar and Hank Willis Thomas at The Schomburg Center was postponed. A March 14 tour of Dozie Kanu’s exhibition “Function” at the Studio Museum’s temporary space on 127th Street, is cancelled. The museum is closing its offices and Studio Museum 127 performance space until further notice.

Black-owned and black-run art spaces are among a groundswell of businesses and organizations grappling with the best way to safely engage their audiences. Many are altering operations in the wake of COVID-19 and guidance from federal, state, and local public health officials recommending social distancing and crowd avoidance.

Black-owned and black-run art spaces are among a groundswell of businesses and organizations grappling with the best way to safely engage their audiences. Many are altering operations in the wake of COVID-19 and guidance from federal, state, and local public health officials recommending social distancing and crowd avoidance.

THERE ARE MORE THAN 1,600 “confirmed or presumptive” cases of COVID-19 (also known as novel coronavirus) in the United States, according to NBC News. Cases have been reported in 48 states. Deaths caused by the virus rose to 41 on Thursday. Worldwide, more than 120,000 people have fallen sick from the virus and more than 4,600 people have died since January. At the same time, more than 62,000 have recovered.

Amid the uncertainty, the stock market has plummeted, recording historic losses not seen since the 1987 stock market crash.

In the United States, institutional response to the COVID-19 virus reached a tipping point Thursday with museums and galleries across the nation canceling events, suspending programming, and announcing temporary closures.

In New York, the Metropolitan Museum of Art announced it will be closed beginning today, Friday, March 13. The Met “will undertake a thorough cleaning and plans to announce next steps early next week.” The Whitney Museum of American Art announced it would temporarily close beginning Friday, March 13 at 5 p.m., and on March 27 review its options for reopening. The Shed, the new arts space at Hudson Yards, announced a same-day closure, “suspending” exhibitions and performances effective Thursday at 6 p.m. (with an e-message that arrived at 5:08 p.m.) through March 30.

Similar to CAAM, many museum are opting to postpone or cancel special programming, such as public talks, tours, or receptions, in which crowds of people might gather, while maintaining regular hours allowing visitors to view exhibitions.

The Fabric Workshop and Museum in Philadelphia, where Lorna Simpson‘s solo exhibition “Spilling, Breaking Waves” is on view through Aug. 9, 2020, cancelled group activities, tours, and events until early April. Meanwhile, the museum and the exhibition remain open to visitors during regular hours, “at this time.”

Public programs at the Baltimore Museum of Art are canceled or postponed through April 12, while the museum remains open during regular public hours. The BMA is presenting female-focused programming throughout 2020, including exhibitions with Mickalene Thomas, Valerie Maynard, Howardena Pindell, SHAN Wallace, and Elissa Blount Moorhead and Bradford Young.

The Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis where exhibitions dedicated to Derek Fordjour and Liz Johnson Artur are on view is proceeding with business as usual: “CAM remains open with no plans for interruption in our programming.”

By contrast, in New York state, where the second-highest number of COVID-19 cases in the nation have been reported (325), responses to public health concerns have been more aggressive. In addition to The Met, The Shed, and the Whitney Museum closures, the Museum of Modern Art, MoMA PS1, Brooklyn Museum (where exhibitions include “Jacques-Louis David Meets Kehinde Wiley”), Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, and New Museum (where Jordan Casteel‘s first solo museum exhibition in New York is on view) are temporarily closed.

 


Smithsonian museums are closing temporarily starting March 14. Shown, Installation view of the Visual Art and the American Experience galleries at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, D.C. | Photo by Alan Karchmer, Courtesy NMAAHC

 

SELECT SCHEDULING CHANGES due to COVID-19 occurred early in the week. South by Southwest in Austin, Texas, was cancelled and Coachella was postponed for six months to October. Paris Photo had planned its inaugural New York edition April 2-5. On Tuesday, the art fair signaled it was postponing to a later date to be announced, “due to the growing concerns over public health and safety and the developing COVID-19 situation.”

After the President’s Oval Office address on Wednesday and the cancellation of the remainder of the NBA season, widespread closures and cancellations followed Thursday, with announcements made across professional and collegiate sports, the entertainment industry, and the arts and culture sectors.

After the President’s Oval Office address on Wednesday and the cancellation of the remainder of the NBA season, widespread closures and cancellations followed Thursday, with announcements made across professional and collegiate sports, the entertainment industry, and the arts and culture sectors.

All Broadway plays and musicals have been shut down for 32 days. In Hollywood, television productions and movie premieres are on hold. Concert tours have been cancelled. Disney has closed all its theme parks for the first time in two decades, since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

Major League Baseball canceled spring training and delayed opening day, which was originally planned for the end of March. The National Hockey League season is on pause. In addition to cancelling its March Madness men’s basketball tournament, the NCAA shut down the women’s basketball tournament, along with championships for all men’s and women’s spring and winter sports, including track, lacrosse, baseball, softball, gymnastics, ice hockey, and tennis. The PGA and LPGA have canceled golf events, too.

Meanwhile, a flurry of art world cancellations and closures were announced Thursday, including the Smithsonian and the National Gallery of Art on the National Mall. NGA will be closed Saturday March 14, and tentatively expects to reopen three weeks later on Saturday, April 4.

The National Zoo, National Museum of African American History and Culture, and all of the Smithsonian museums in Washington, D.C., and New York City are closing temporarily, also beginning March 14. The Smithsonian’s notification left its forthcoming schedule influx: “We are not announcing a re-opening date at this time and will provide updates on a week-to-week basis on social media and our websites.

The Smithsonian, along with museums, art centers, and galleries across the country encourage the public to check their websites for programming and closure updates. With more people teleworking and potentially confined to their homes, they also suggest visiting their websites for art experiences—exploring images, editorial content, and videos about art, artists, and exhibitions.

A SAMPLING OF BLACK-OWNED GALLERIES, including N’Namdi Contemporary in Miami, Mariane Ibrahim in Chicago, and June Kelly Gallery and Skoto Gallery in New York, has not modified their hours of operation, thus far. On Friday evening, Jenkins Johnson Gallery announced its spaces in San Francisco and Brooklyn were temporarily closed, effective immediately.

Kenkeleba House in New York’s East Village is presenting works by 43 photographers. Curated by Beuford Smith, “Visions 1020” is on view in the Wilmer Jennings Gallery through May 2. A panel discussion remains scheduled for March 28.

The Underground Museum in Los Angeles is currently closed to the public during installation of an exhibition dedicated to artist Noah Davis (1983-2015), the institution’s co-founder. A version of the show was presented earlier this year at David Zwirner Gallery in New York. Expected to open March 21, the museum has announced visitors should stay tuned for a opening date for Davis’s exhibition.

In San Francisco, the Museum of the African Diaspora has also been closed for installation. Its spring exhibitions, including Mary Lovelace O’Neal‘s solo show “Whales, A Romance…” (March 25-Aug. 23, 2020) are scheduled to debut later this month. According to the latest update from MoAD, out of precaution due to COVID-19, the March 24 opening reception for the upcoming exhibitions has been cancelled. The museum still plans to open to the public during regular hours on March 25. CT

 

TOP IMAGE: Exterior view of California African American Museum in Los Angeles. | Courtesy CAAM

 

For up-to-date information regarding operating hours and possible closures and cancellations, check directly with each institution

 

FIND MORE information about COVID-19 from the World Health Organization and U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, as well as state health departments.

FIND MORE updated news about COVID-19 from CNN, NBC News, and The New York Times

 

UPDATE (03/13/20): On Friday, Culture Type received additional closure announcements from more than 40 and counting museums, galleries, and art organizations across the United States, in Canada and London. Among them, the Studio Museum in Harlem announced it was closing its offices and Studio Museum 127 performance space until further notice. Kalamazoo Institute of Arts in Michigan, where Belinda Tate is director, is closed March 14-April 3.

Jenkins Johnson Gallery decided to close its San Francisco and Brooklyn locations (where exhibitions of Kahlil Robert Irving and Mohau Modisakeng, respectively, were scheduled) effective immediately with plans to evaluate the situation on March 31. Some commercial galleries such as New York’s ACA Galleries and Mnuchin Gallery where “Mary Lovelace O’Neal: Chasing Down the Image” is on view (a one-week extension to March 21 was announced March 10), have opted for appointment only accommodations. Rhona Hoffman Gallery in Chicago is also offering private viewings of “Nathaniel Mary Quinn: Soil, Seed, and Rain” during its temporary closure. Other galleries, including Blum & Poe in Los Angeles and Sikkema Jenkins in New York where “Kara Walker: Drawings” is on view, are proceeding cautiously with regular hours, but no special events.

In the auction world, Christie’s has postponed sales and closed offices (most but not all), others auction houses (such as Sothebys, Phillips, and Swann) are moving forward with exhibitions and sales with precautionary measures and encouraging use of their services and information available via their digital platforms and online and phone bidding. In the same vein, Bonhams March 18 Modern & Contemporary African Art sale in London, remains scheduled.

UPDATE (03/14/20): Phillips has decided to postpone all auctions and events globally through mid-May. Michael Rosenfeld Gallery in New York announced it is open by appointment only.

UPDATE (3/15/20): The Underground Museum has temporarily put its yoga and meditation sessions on hold and postponed its Noah Davis exhibition, making its program announcement with a poetic message: “When a boat is at sea and is suddenly surrounded by fog, they drop anchor until the fog clears. See you all when the fog clears. Stay tuned for a new date for Noah’s opening.”

 


MARY LOVELACE O’NEAL, White Whale (from Whales Fucking series), circa 1980s. Mixed media on canvas, 81 x 138 inches. Artwork © Mary Lovelace O’Neal. Photography Tom Powel Imaging, courtesy Mnuchin Gallery, New York

 

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