Boston’s Museums Shuttered Again

Mayor Marty Walsh Orders Rollback

By: - Dec 15, 2020

Faced with a spike in new cases of the coronavirus Mayor Marty Walsh has taken action to flatten the curve. Starting tomorrow categories of businesses and cultural institutions will be closed for the next three weeks.

At that time there will be an evaluation of their status moving forward. By contrast New York’s museums remain open with precautions. 
Here in the Berkshires, in particular, Pittsfield has been a hotspot. Restaurants were closed but after lobbying by owners have since reopened with greater restrictions. Berkshire museums remain open at least for now. 

It is anticipated that the rate of infection over the next few months will equal if not exceed the former peak of the pandemic. 

The release of vaccines will take months to have a national impact. Dr. Fauci has predicted that it will be as late as summer or September until there is a return to normalcy. Even when vaccinated individuals are advised to continue wearing masks and practicing social distancing. 

It is far too early to say when there will be a return for theatres and live performances or spectator sports. A summer of the arts in the Berkshires remains on hold.

For now, in Boston, closures impact: museums; movie theaters; aquariums; sightseeing tours;  historical  sites; fitness centers, health clubs, gyms; bowling alleys; batting cages; and rock climbing facilities.

 “I want to be clear: This is not about targeting specific sectors that cause the virus,” Mayor Walsh said. “This is an effort to reduce overall activity outside the home using mechanisms afforded by the state’s reopening plan.”

 “We have been paying close attention to the data provided by the city and state as COVID cases continue to rise and have listened to the Governor’s and Mayor’s calls for all of us to stay home and do our part to limit the virus’s spread,”  ICA director Jill Medvedow  stated. “With this in mind, we decided to voluntarily close the museum to the public to ensure the health and safety of our staff, visitors, and community. At this time, we do not have a projected reopening date but will continue to follow the data and advice of public health experts.”

The Museum of Fine Arts, celebrating its 150th year, has been hit hard resulting in loss of revenue leading to programming and staff reductions. The museum has been attempting to regroup in the aftermath of media coverage of instances of racism regarding a student tour of the museum. 
In a letter from Matthew Teitelbaum, director of the MFA, the museum offered to refund advance ticket buyers but urged them to consider them as a donation. He also appealed for financial support for the museum in this time of crisis. 

 “We appreciate the Mayor’s efforts to keep Bostonians safe, and are committed to doing our part, he stated.  “Museums and cultural institutions understand the need to take significant action to curb increasing infection rates, and we have helped keep our communities safe by exceeding public health guidelines. As we move to reopening in the New Year, we know that museums will provide a welcoming space for all of Boston long into the future.”

The New England Aquarium is closed for now.

 “The New England Aquarium has prioritized safety throughout the pandemic and will continue to do so during this temporary public closure” Vikki N. Spruill its president stated.” Above all else, we put the health of our visitors, staff, and animals first. Even though we have no evidence of community transmission among visitors or staff at the Aquarium, we must do our part to help slow the spread. Our team will be closely following guidance from the City of Boston. While our doors are closed to visitors, our staff will continue to provide dedicated care daily to our animals. We encourage our supporters to visit us from afar with a variety of virtual programming opportunities available and to consider a donation to the Mission Forward Fund, which directly supports the institution’s most urgent needs.”

Museum of Science, Boston states.

“We have been in close communication with Mayor Walsh’s staff as community transmission rates have grown to alarming levels. During this time, the Museum has maintained a safe experience for all through reduced operating capacities, strict cleaning and safety protocols and adherence to health guidelines. We are not aware of any transmissions at the Museum. However, we support the effort to take every measure possible at this critical time. While the Museum will be closed to the public, our work and mission continue. We will continue to work on various on-site projects and will expand our service to the community through our digital efforts at MOS at Home and MOS at School. We have a unique opportunity to help our community through this difficult time. This is another setback for our already fragile cultural community, particularly during the holidays, but we are dedicated to emerge from this global pandemic stronger than ever in service to our community.”

Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum statement. 

“We appreciate the efforts of our Mayor, and Governor, as well as hospital, frontline and other essential workers, to keep our City safe, especially during this holiday season. We look forward to the time in the New Year when we can once again welcome visitors, and serve as a place of beauty and respite for all.”