It was mid-February when I decided to fill out an application to be a summer intern at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. I was beyond excited to spend my summer days working at an art museum. Unfortunately, I was absolutely devastated when I received an email from the Met stating that “the summer program has been canceled due to COVID-19”. The Met made it clear that they hoped to host high school interns during the fall of 2020, but despite that, all museums are closed currently which eliminates the possibility of attending exhibits, various art programs, and internships.
As much as I want and hope that museums and art galleries can survive this pandemic, I am fearful that they cannot. Chef David Chang, founder of the Momofuku restaurant group, estimated that 90% of restaurants will close post-COVID-19; he later stated that the 90% of restaurants closing could be exacted on galleries and museums. Several art schools have also announced that they would not be having incoming art classes in the fall of 2020. It is clear that the art world has been negatively affected by the worldwide pandemic, and only time will tell if they will be able to re-open when it is safe to do so.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art estimates they will lose around $100 million due to the pandemic. They have already laid off sizable amounts of their staff. The Hammer Museum, the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles, the Museum of Modern Art in San Francisco, and the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art have also laid off hundreds of their employees. Unlike the Met, Getty, Kimble, and the MoMA, smaller art museums and galleries do not have the same extensive funding to help them get through these times. Obviously, art will always continue but our society may see significant changes in museums and galleries.
It is possible that celebrities, the wealthy, and famous artists will donate to struggling galleries and museums in order to help them survive. There isn’t much that museums and galleries can do to help the situation our world is facing besides shutting down temporarily to stop the spread of this vicious virus. For the time being, I will satisfy my inner artist by painting in my backyard, imagining I am painting in the garden of the Met Cloisters.
Graphic: Zoe Kovac