Art Basel Hong Kong Canceled Amid Coronavirus Fears

By Bryan Grogan

Art Basel Hong Kong, which was set to take place from March 19-21, has been canceled following the outbreak of the novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV). 

In a press release sent out to media this morning, Marc Spiegler, the global director of Art Basel said: 

Our thoughts are with those affected by the recent coronavirus outbreak around the world. The decision to cancel Art Basel Hong Kong was an extremely difficult one for us. We explored every other possible option before doing so, gathering advice and perspectives from many gallerists, collectors, partners and external experts. We are acutely aware of the important role that the fair plays within the regions cultural scene and for our galleries, both in Asia and across the globe. Our team dedicated extensive time and effort to ensure our show in March would be a success over the course of the past year. Unfortunately, the sudden outbreak and rapid spread of the novel coronavirus radically changed the situation.

The fair will not be rescheduled for another date in 2020, with the next Art Basel Hong Kong taking place in 2021. Questions about whether the fair would go ahead in 2020 have been circling since the outbreak of the novel coronavirus, with the fair sending out a letter to exhibitors on January 30, promising a swift decision. 

Elsewhere, Art Central canceled its five-day fair from March 18-22, which was also due to take place in Hong Kong with a confirmed participation of 80 galleries. The two fairs are central to Hong Kong Art Week. 

Hong Kong closed all but two of its border crossings to the Chinese mainland on Monday, February 3, as the special administrative region (SAR) battles to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus. As of publication time (February 7, 12.31pm CST), 24 cases of the novel coronavirus had been confirmed in Hong Kong. 

In other art news, the opening of a major new museum in Shunde, Guangdong has been postponed in light of the virus outbreak. According to a release by He Art Museum, the grand opening was set to take place on March 20, 2020. Organizers will seek a suitable date to reschedule the opening. 

According to Artnet, the opening of X Museum in Beijing was also postponed. That museum was set to open in March, but the date has been pushed back amid uncertainty over the spread of the novel coronavirus. 

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