Museums in Venice, Turin, and Milan have closed as a result of the recent outbreak of coronavirus (Covid-2019) in northern Italy. Seven Italian regions have been directed to close their museums, including Lombardy, which is home to most of the more than 200 individuals infected with the virus in Italy. The ministry of culture has also revoked free entry to state museums throughout the country, which is normally offered on the first Sunday of every month.
The instructions to close down museums have impacted both private and public institutions. According to The Art Newspaper, all of Venice’s public museums—including the Palazzo Ducale, Museo Correr, and the Museo del Vetro—have closed.
The sweeping closures affect all museums across the country, including the Vatican Museums, Galleria Borghese in Rome, and the Uffizi in Florence. Private museums, such as the Fondazione Prada in Milan, and the Pirelli HangarBicocca, which had reopened after a week’s enforced closure, and have now shut again. In Venice, François Pinault’s private museums, the Palazzo Grassi and Punta della Dogana are also closed, and all events have been cancelled.
Rome’s Raphael exhibition, which marks the 500th anniversary of the artist’s death, had been in the works for years. A record 70,000 tickets had been sold ahead of its highly anticipated opening. The show includes works on loan from the Louvre in Paris, National Gallery in London, and the Royal Collection, as well as 40 from the Uffizi, which is co-organizing the exhibition. The scientific committee of the Florence art museum resigned en masse in protest at the loan of Raphael’s 1518 portrait of Pope Leo X because it deemed it too fragile to travel.
The government has placed all residents of the Lombardy region, the epicenter of the country’s outbreak, in lockdown. This includes the region’s capital city, Milan. Fourteen other central and northern provinces, including Venice, are also affected. People are not supposed to travel to and from the affected areas unless they obtain special permission. Road blocks and checkpoints have been put in place to deter people from dodging the ban.
Residents of the quarantined zones have been asked to remain housebound where they can, and to refrain from all-but-essential travel. Cafés and restaurants in the areas are still being permitted to open between 6 a.m. and 6 p.m., but customers are being asked to stay at least three feet apart. Those breaking quarantine face three months in prison.