Following Coronavirus Closures, Museums in Germany, Austria Plan Reopenings

Tessa Solomon

BY TESSA SOLOMON

April 22, 2020 5:04pm

Old Masters Picture Gallery at the Dresden State Art Collections.OLIVER KILLIG/© OLD MASTERS PICTURE GALLERY, THE DRESDEN STATE ART COLLECTIONS

Germany’s attempts to battle the coronavirus appear to have been successful, and now small businesses across the nation have begun to reopen. Now, a few states in the country have revealed plans to bring museums back into operation as well.

Per a report in the Art Newspaper, small museums in the German state of Brandenburg were the first to reopen their doors to the public today, albeit with strict security precautions, including the widespread use of disinfectant and the use of credit cards in place of cash. Thuringia has announced a reopening date of April 28 for its cultural institutions, though the German Association of Museums stated institutions in the country’s larger metropolitan centers may not reopen until May. According to Berlin Mayor Michael Müller, museums in the state, including the Altes Museum, Hamburger Bahnhof, and the Bodes Museum, may reopen on May 4, given they can meet the strict safety guidelines. The Dresden State Art Collections in Saxony have also announced plans to gradually reopen its museums beginning May 4.

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A spokeswoman for the Dresden State Art Collections told the Art Newspaper, “Probably not all of our museums will open that day,” adding, “We have to implement a lot of new measures and we are working on a concept.”

Measures recommended by the Brandenburg Museum Association’s guidelines include building a plexiglass shields for ticket collections, rules requiring masks, and the limitation of museum visitors to one person per every area measuring roughly 160 square feet. Time slots for vulnerable visitors, such as children, the elderly, and disabled, are also under consideration. Most museums in the Brandenburg state, such as the Barberini Museum, which postponed a Monet exhibition, are still in the process of implementing safety precautions.

Austria, which implemented early widespread testing and strict social distancing, is also among the first major European countries to announce the reopening of its cultural institutions, having announced last week that some museums will resume business as early as mid-May. As of Tuesday, Austria has reported 14,925 confirmed cases and roughly 500 deaths. Some state-run institutions, such as the Kunsthistorisches Museum and the Belvedere, both in Vienna, have decided to postpone reopening until July 1 despite the government’s green light.

Elsewhere, museums in China, which reported no new coronavirus deaths for the first time in early April, have announced dates to reopen to the public. The UCCA Center for Contemporary Art in Beijing, which has been closed for four months, plans to open on May 21 with the exhibition “Meditations in an Emergency,” which ponders the role that art plays during the time of crises. Other venues, including the Power Station of Art, the Shanghai Museum, and the China Art Museum, have been open since mid-March.

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