New York’s Major Cultural Institutions Close in Response to Coronavirus

Mar 12, 2020 · 53 comments
Freddie (New York NY)
I'd written this in the NY Today reader comments, but it seems to apply to all decisions described here, too! How much loss of life will we tolerate with how much economic loss feels like it may actually be spoken out loud, not just behind the scenes. This was interesting to read on the front page of the whole print edition, not just front page of arts, in Michael Paulson's article from the brilliant but often cynical Patti LuPone. “I’m shocked that they took this tack, but also grateful they did, just to keep us healthy.” Of all people to give us a bright takeaway about humanity when we can use it. (Well, at least it's nice to daydream that it might not only be money.) Tune of “The Little Things You Do Together” from “Company” It’s the things we like to do together. Do together, Do together. That promotes incubationship. It’s hundreds in one place together Crowded with no space together Nearly face to face together That bring viruses joy. The money types love to worry But not a thought about wealth. It’s sweet to feel when they worry, They’re just concerned for our health. Each night or matinée together. Crowds that yell hooray together. Droplets that we spray together. That bring viruses joy. (Uh huh. Air-kiss. Mm, hmm.)
Roseann Fitzgetald (Worcester MA)
I recommend watching Channel 13’s fabulous show “ Arts in the City.” You may not be able to attend an opening or premiere of a great performance but you will stay informed of all the great art in the world. The hosts are Philippe de Montebello and Paula Zahn. How can you miss?
Jerry Mander (New York City)
9/11 Memorial abNd Museum is closed.
Enlynn Rock (Winchester)
Can anyone explain why Disney World with huge number of visitors, no doubt with many foreigners from pre border closing areas, is allowed to stay open?
@Enlynn Rock You missed the most recent news --Disneyland is closed, along with the Universal City Hollywood Theme Park...Thank Goodness!
Cellist (Lincoln Center)
Playing a concert tonight in Lincoln Center. It feels like a surreal choice for the concert to go on while most of the rest of our work for the month is cancelled. Walking around on broadway between the sound check and the show, the line at the 72nd Trader Joe’s is around the block, and it doesn’t seem like anyone would be in the mood to sit through a show. The demographic of our audience should not come hear us. The musicians don’t feel like they have the power to speak their minds. We’re also worried about the rest of the season financially. So we’re playing. I’m sure it’s the last one for a while.
Jenny (CT)
@Cellist - I wish your talents were available on the radio. Why can't there be broadcasting? My local symphony, the GBS, is offering a simulcast for people who don't want to listen in person this weekend.
Bronx Jon (NYC)
I suspect this may be a not so temporary closing. Unfortunately we’re probably at the tip of the virus iceberg.
Working Mama (New York City)
So tragic that epic failures of testing and containment at the beginning of this thing have caused worst-case measures that negatively impact millions.
I Gadfly (New York City)
Closing the Met in response to the Coronavirus doesn’t mean I can’t visit the museum; their great website is available free of charge! I can do a virtual tour of their current exhibits like “In Pursuit of Fashion; “Gerhard Richter Painting After All”; & “Sahel: Art & Empires on the Shores of the Sahara.” I can listen to the artist Wangechi Mutu describe her aesthetics & her exhibit “The New Ones, will free us.” I can watch a video about the construction of a new tutu for the Met's cast of Degas's famous sculpture “The Little Fourteen-Year-Old Dancer.” And finally I can become an art critic, by putting all these exhibits and artists in a historical context after consulting the “Timeline of Art History.”
I Gadfly (New York City)
@I Gadfly Here’s the Met’s website:
Anna (UWS)
Who's afraid of Virginia Wolfe? I am not at all convinced that so many closings are necessary-- rather I fear this may just prolong the duration of the virus. I would prefer to get it during the next two weeks... than to wait til July-- fever in JuLy -- UGH... Unlike most people I have actually spent 10 days in bed with the flu … chilling when my temp. went up and drinking tons of chicken soup.. Hydrate, hydrate. I was 40 years younger then... Now I have had both pneumonia vaccines, just got the latest flu shot yesterday, will try to have enough of my essential meds... and have a freezer stuffed with all kinds of tasty stuff. Tomato soup and tuna come today.. Trying not to get too tired.. and to not touch my face-- itchy eyes from one med I use -- and wear gloves on the subway.. when touching things.. So far as the stock market I sold.... today and then the market went down more. OH well.
Uncle Moishy (NYC)
@Anna, your sentiment is understandable, but the reality is that there are nowhere near enough hospital beds and equipment to handle the number of serious cases who'll need specialized treatment if the virus races through the population. That's why we must do whatever we can to slow the spread down, in the hope that our medical system will be able to cope with a slower influx of patients over a longer period of time.
B. (Brooklyn)
It's Virginia "Woolf." You're thinking possibly of Tom Wolfe. Even so, normally constant museum goers, we took a hiatus beginning two weeks ago.
Michelle (Fremont)
@Anna That is the point: to spread out the infection over time, instead of overloading the healthcare system with a massive number of infected people all at once. It will be many months before herd immunity helps slow the spread.
Timothy Gaudet (Massachusetts)
Still waiting for Broadway to take the responsible action and shut down. Until then, their attitude is that “the show must go on”.
Working Mama (New York City)
@Timothy Gaudet They have already been ordered closed. You've got your wish, my long-awaited night out has been canceled whether I like it or not.
Brookhawk (Maryland)
@Working Mama I had a whole week planned in NYC, seeing plays and museums next week, but I canned it last week. Saw this coming. I'll save some money only to watch it disappear in the stock market. Ah, America!
Josh L (NYC)
Did you read the article? They closed early and won’t reopen until April 12th.
Chris (Washington)
Here in Washington, at 5pm the Library of Congress will close until at least April 1.
C (.)
MoMA may want to follow suit....
Zejee (Bronx)
Oh no! Of course it’s necessary but no parade, no Met. No carousing in bars, drinking green beer, kissing all the Irish.
Asher (Brooklyn)
At this point what officials are trying to do is limit the spread. It could work to keep down the numbers or it may not work, but we have to try. We cannot go about business as usual.
Victoria Francis (Los Angeles Ca)
As the owner of a tour company who brings many young people and adults to your city to experience the Broadway Theatre, the exquisite museums and the magnificence of the cultural and historical sights, this is unbelievably sad and depressing. So many young people have fallen in love with NY and return to the city as college students or visitors and stay to be part of your wonderful city of New York. Now I must cancel the April trips and disappoint so many because of Washington's lack of leadership in combating the virus which is bringing the country to a standstill.
local (ny)
@Victoria Francis I'm very sympathetic for the impact to your business, but respectfully I disagree on your last paragraph. This is EXACTLY what govt leadership should be done to help combat the spread. We must reduce the burden so there isn't a dramatic uptick in cases that collapses our medical system. We don't want to end up like Italy- where they are literally having to make life or death choices in rationing ventilators. People are dying. Not visiting a museum is not life-threatening.
Ana (New York, NY)
@Victoria Francis This has nothing to do with the White House. Schumer wanted to keep flights coming in from China after Trump banned them.
Victoria Francis (Los Angeles Ca)
@local I believe you misunderstood my last statement. I believe, the Federal Government failed to act in a forceful and timely manner which has caused the United States and its people to suffer undue consequences and bringing our country to a standstill. It is not the impact to my business which dominates my concern since I barely make expenses, but the experience young people have in being exposed to the arts and the culture of the world especially since I was a high school theatre teacher for 42 years and my passion is the arts.
The Governor of Utah has just made the recommendation that gatherings of 100 people should be postponed or cancelled throughout the state. Sadly we will miss some symphony and opera performances, but support the decision. We don't yet know of cases of community spread, but that could be because only 254 people have been tested so far here, due to the lack of testing resources.
MIMA (heartsny)
For me - I cancelled my plans last weekend to travel to my beloved NYC. So disheartened, while thinking about a trip that got me through a Wisconsin winter - going to NYC in March. The time of year to do all favorite things. But to go - would not be right to my family, my friends, my coworkers, my patients if I got sick. I could never forgive myself for contaminating them. Ever. But alas, many things planned on are now closing - for protection of others, including seniors like me. It’s interesting, this coronavirus will make history. And those making right decisions vs. fools who had no clue what they were doing will be our heroes of tomorrow. Thank you leadership for doing the right thing. I ❤️ NY!
We love you back! So many great movies take place in NYC. Enjoy the Big Apple from your living room TV and we’ll see you soon.
DBS (Madison, Wisconsin)
@MIMA we too just cancelled our Spring trip to NYC. We have tickets to see To Kill a Mocking Bird. We grew up in the City and we too live in Wisconsin. We will miss seeing all our family and friends in NYC
B. (Brooklyn)
Why not watch the Ken Burns documentary on New York City? The last episode, about September 11, was added afterwards. Always good -- and, at the end, heartbreaking. We'll survive this too, and you'll be back.
Mon Ray (KS)
The CDC has stated that people over 60, who also happen to be among the biggest financial donors to the arts, are much more susceptible to the coronavirus and are dying or becoming seriously ill much more frequently than those under 60. It has dawned on me that coronavirus may be used as an excuse to cancel US boomers, you know, all those old people who consume an inordinate amount of funds for Medicare, Social Security and a wide range of social services. Lest you think I am an alarmist, I will point out that top doctors in Italy, which has the highest coronavirus case-load outside of China, have recommended that rather than admit patients on a first-come-first-served basis, hospitals should give ICU and bed priority to those with the highest likelihood of survival—that is, people under 60. Indeed, this under-60 guideline should apply to all patients needing intensive care treatment and not just those suffering from coronavrius, according to the Society of Anesthesia, Analgesia, Resuscitation and Intensive Care (SAARI). Yes, this recommendation is being made in Italy now, but in a couple of weeks, when US—and New York—hospitals and ICUs start to overflow, the policy will be considered in the US. Actors, politicians and elites over age 60 have the money and power to get preferred treatment for coronavirus; the fate of the rest of us oldsters is up to the vagaries of the virus. Why hasn’t AARP picked up on this?
Michelle (Fremont)
@Mon Ray What does AARP care? They will still have plenty of emerging seniors to buy the insurance policies (including Medicare supplements) they promote after the boomers are culled.
Momo (Berzerkeley)
In San Francisco, the SF Ballet and SF Symphony were closed by the mayor a week ago. In Berkeley, Cal Performances cancelled its performances for the month of March. Art venues that normally survive on a shoe string are hurting everywhere. I'm glad that the NYT is writing about the arts. Cancellations of basketball games make headlines, but not the arts. We need arts more in times like this. They give humans humanity. Instead of talking about the "big money" sports institutions are losing, we should talk about how to save the arts and cultural institutions facing hardships.
Brookhawk (Maryland)
@Momo Performers don't get paid if they can't perform. My son is with the opera, whose season doesn't start until September but so far they are allowed to start rehearsals next week. If they can canceled, he won't get paid either.
The mayor is recklessly endangering the lives of thousands of public school teachers and staff by allowing schools to remain open during a pandemic. Given the dire shortage of testing kits, the number of infected is probably in the hundreds in NYC alone. Waiting for the mayor to make that difficult but life-saving decisions.
Cybelle Johnson (NY)
@CP And what are you going to do with the children whose parents still have to work- are you volunteering to babysit them 5 days a week?
BW (New Jersey)
@CP and, what about the grandparents who would have to watch the children at home and then be at risk themselves. Also, many children would be alone at home and some would not have food. Then there are children who have no home. School is home for them. This is a very difficult decision. I would not want tone making it but I would lean towards keeping schools open.
Claudia B (New York)
I hope they are giving their employees (guards, cleaners, etc.) paid time off.
s (NYC)
@Claudia B No worries, we're being paid. Thanks for thinking of us!
J. Rodriguiz MD PhD (Los Angeles, CA)
There are no better cleaners than those who restore ancient bronze statues. Artists and restoration specialists have a lot to offer medical cleanliness. Hospitals could learn from restoration specialists. Regardless of tourism, the MET will be open with the buzz of PhD bound starving artists. They’ll be cleaning old statues and papyri from Egyptian times while Rome burns. I’m sorry I won’t be able to visit.
MJUM (Boston)
This is insanity. The United States is just giving in to a threat that has not occurred and may not be as bad as anticipated, all the while trashing the economy as a result. No, I'm not a Trump supporter - I despise him and realize some of this is happening because of a lack of Washington leadership. But individuals can assess their own risk and attend a basketball game based on that assessment. Operate with as a few employees as possible but allow people to choose. Has anyone stopped her or his life because thousands of people have died from the flu this season? Of course not, yet some estimates of the rate of contamination of others is not much lower with the flu than with the coronavirus. Everyone needs to take a deep breath.
me137 (NYC)
@MJUM You are just wrong. The point of all these closures and restrictions is to slow down the spread of the virus so that our health care institutions can cope and help people. This is absolutely critical.
B. (Brooklyn)
True. In the old days, we did not have populations being kept alive through the wonders of modern medicine. They were felled by cancer, heart conditions, various diseases. Now we have vaccines, antibiotics, insulin, prednisone, chemotherapy drugs, and the like. That's why today's cities in particular are so vulnerable and why hospitals might very well be swamped with hopeless cases: Coronavirus hits sick people hard. Our loved ones who have diabetes, various cancers in remission, or heart problems, or who are elderly and frail, would be in dire straits were they to be exposed to this novel virus. We do need to take a deep breath but also to remain careful for the sake of people less robust than we are.
s (NYC)
@MJUM keeping large institutions, especially ones that are national and international tourist destinations, open is a hazard to employees. No one should be asked, let alone forced, to work somewhere that puts them at risk.
Susan G. (Bronx, NY)
Thank you to the Met for taking public safety seriously. Meanwhile, parades are postponed or cancelled, the U.S. Capitol is closed to visitors, sports seasons are suspended, and colleges are moving to remote learning models for the rest of the semester. But what about our kids' schools? Why is public safety being decided on a district-by-district basis during a pandemic? I live one town over from New Rochelle, and despite at least one positive test result in our school's community, our district's schools remain open. How many parents and grandparents will have to die as a result of the built-in limitations of our healthcare system and our political leadership's inaction? Sure, all our kids need education and some of them need free lunches, as well - but how exactly how are the deaths of older generations going to help the kids we leave behind? Who will raise my kids after I die of coronavirus pneumonia while lying on a gurney in a hospital lobby? The president? The governor? The school superintendent?
B. (Brooklyn)
Well, it had to happen. As a member of the Met, I've been in the habit of either going to see specific shows or simply dropping in even for 30-40 minutes whenever I am in the neighborhood. But for two weeks now, I have been holing up in Brooklyn, eschewing subway rides (yes, I am fortunate to be able to do so) or, saying to myself that, anyway, spring is here, visiting public gardens and parks instead of the Met. But closings and polite warnings ("please do not come for tours if you live in a hotspot") are now becoming the rule. And who can blame them? I trust that this, too, shall pass.
Kristy (Bridgeport, CT)
I was expecting this to happen, and it's disappointing... but it's the right thing to do. Hoping to visit once we're back in the clear.
KD Tragesser (Knoxville, Tn)
Sad but true. We all need to do the right thing. I had to cancel my trip to NYC on March 19th to visit my daughter who is a teacher in Harlem and who I miss very much and am very worried about as all public NYC Schools are still open. We also had tickets to a Broadway play and as far as I know the play is still going to happen. People, do the right thing and stay healthy.
CooperS (Southern Calilfornia)
@KD Tragesser That play won't be happening until after Easter, if at all.
rumcow (New York)
Congratulations to the MET for doing the right thing.
Beaglelover (New York)
Well, this is a sad day!. Not only is our beloved museum closed but there will be no St. Patrick's Day parade in Manhattan on March 17th for the first time in 257 years. These are dark days indeed!
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