Chinese art events delayed due to coronavirus

Kwoineh Haba

Due to the coronavirus outbreak that spread from Wuhan, China to the rest of the world, the openings of many Chinese art attractions have been postponed. Considering the global statistics of the virus, the virus was confirmed to be severe. 

“The World Health Organization, which last week declared the 2019 n-CoV [2019 novel coronavirus] a public health emergencies of international concern (PHEIC), has also advised against blanket travel bans,” said Art Newspaper writer Lisa Movius. “China’s Lunar New Year

holiday, originally slated to end tomorrow, has been extended to 9 February to minimize travel.”

One such attraction, the He Art Museum (HEM), is delaying not only its opening but also its press event in London and a tour of the facility that was planned for late Feb, according to a statement quoted by the Art Newspaper.

“The health and safety of HEM’s staff, construction workers, artists, future visitors, and international collaborators are of top priority,” said the He Art Museum. “As a museum opening event is a major gathering, HEM decided to postpone the ceremony to minimize the risks of transmission.”

According to the statement, HEM also acknowledges that the Chinese government is doing everything it can to prevent further outbreaks, and is “closely following the measures from the Chinese government and the World Health Organization”. The HEM is planning to reschedule its opening for a later date that will be announced as soon as possible. In addition to the HEM’s delayed opening, the X Museum’s March opening was also delayed, including its opening show, the X Museum Triennale. The museum’s co-founder plans to reschedule the opening for mid-to-late April, according to a pulled quote from the ArtForum.

“I don’t want to risk the health of our guests, our staff, and also our construction team,” said X Museum co-founder and collector Michael Xufu Huang.

According to the Art Newspaper, Huang was concerned about “forcing” the opening with “so many uncertainties” about reducing the spread of coronavirus. Aside from the two museums, there have been discussions about either canceling or scaling down other March events such as Gallery Weekend Beijing and Art Basel in Hong Kong, as well as other attractions.

“Chinese authorities also closed off access to parts of the Great Wall of China and the Forbidden City,” said ArtNet writer Amah-Rose Abrams. “Hong Kong… has also closed attractions and placed restrictions on migration to and from the mainland. Museums, stadiums, and other public gathering places are all currently off limits.”

Despite the postponing of many other events planned for March, such as the Design Shanghai Fair and the Art Central fair in Hong Kong, the Chinese government continues to find ways to contain the virus in the hopes that the events can eventually open.