Corona Column

Cultural institutions reeling after weeks of lockdown

Cultural institutions like the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City have had a rough few weeks. (Alison Courtney/Via Unsplash)

For the duration of the coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis, AN will use this column to keep our readers up to date on how the pandemic is affecting architecture and related industries. This weekly article is meant to digest the latest major developments in the crisis and synthesize broader patterns and what they could mean for architecture in the United States. The previous edition of the column can be found here.

Even as the country starts reopening, this week’s coronavirus-related architecture news hasn’t been great. Though the country is reopening, the effects of the past few weeks of lockdown are becoming clearer. April’s Architecture Billing Index numbers came out, and they were bleak across all sectors and regions, and cultural institutions are grappling with funding cuts and an uncertain future.

While museums in Texas are already open again, albeit with social distancing and monitoring measures in place, New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art is planning on waiting until August to welcome visitors. It has canceled all events for the rest of the year, though, and likely won’t reopen with the same capacity as before. But at least the Met is planning on reopening—a UNESCO and International Council of Museums report came out this week saying that 13 percent of museums worldwide are not likely to reopen

The reconstruction of London’s Globe theater may also be a casualty of the pandemic as the nonprofit company occupying it is ineligible for government relief funds

Meanwhile, Philadelphia, faced with a financial shortfall like many American cities, is looking at a budget that would cut all arts funding, which could devastate the city’s cultural scene. Los Angeles is dealing with its funding cuts differently—the Los Angeles City Council approved measures to use real estate development fees to fund grants for local artists and cultural organizations

Looking internationally, the Venice Architecture Biennale is coping by pushing this year’s festival to 2021, joining the London Design Biennale and associated design fairs.

Hopefully, the summer will bring sunnier news!

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