Auckland Galleries and Museums Shutter Again
By Fion Tse
Art institutions and galleries in Auckland are closing their doors once again due to Covid-19 restrictions. Two months since New Zealand lifted its nationwide lockdown and declared that there are "no active cases" of Covid-19, the country is now contending with the possibilities of a second wave. On August 11, prime minister Jacinda Ardern re-imposed a level-three lockdown in Auckland after reports that day of four locally transmitted cases. Residents are asked to stay home if possible and public facilities have been closed from August 12 to at least August 14.
Art institutions in Auckland are among those that have been impacted. Gallery Starkwhite swiftly shuttered its doors on the 12th, saying that it “hopes normal hours can resume Saturday 15th” on its website. An alternative schedule for Jin Jiangbo and John Reynolds’s joint show “Performative Geographies,” originally slated to close this Saturday, has yet to be confirmed. The Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki also announced its temporary closure from Tuesday onwards until further notice; its exhibition “Enchanted Worlds: Hokusai, Hiroshige and the Art of Edo Japan” was supposed to end on August 16, however a virtual tour is still available online. Other exhibitions, including group show “Civilisation, Photography, Now” featuring photographers such as Taryn Simon and An-My Lê, and Richard Lewer’s landscape paintings show “Collective Memory,” are also closed, although both are scheduled to end later in the year.
The rest of New Zealand has been placed under a level-two alert, allowing businesses to continue normal operations with social distancing measures. Some have opted to close temporarily, such as Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa in Wellington, which is closed for August 12 and 13, with plans to resume public service on August 14. Other institutions have remained open. The Christchurch Art Gallery now requires contact information of visitors in addition to increased social distancing measures. Its ongoing retrospective, “Louise Henderson: From Life,” as well as daily guided tours remain available to the public. In New Plymouth, the Govett-Brewster Art Gallery/Len Lye Centre and its adjunct cinema are also open, with solo exhibitions featuring Len Lye’s kinetic sculptures in “Sky Snakes” and Candice Lin’s “Pigs and Poison,” exploring Chinese migration and agricultural practices, on view.
Nearby in the Southern Hemisphere, Australia is battling its second wave in Victoria and New South Wales. Galleries and museums have been shuttered in Melbourne since July 9, including Anna Schwartz Gallery, the Heide Museum of Modern Art, and the National Gallery of Victoria (NGV), with reopening dates yet to be confirmed.
Fion Tse is an editorial intern at ArtAsiaPacific.
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