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  • Jul 08, 2020

Melbourne Art Institutions Battling Second Covid-19 Wave

Australian Centre for Contemporary Art

Following the brief reopening of Melbourne’s galleries and museums in June, public spaces will shutter yet again as Australia’s second-largest metropolis contends with another Covid-19 outbreak. 

Taking stock of the sudden surge in daily cases with 191 new infections recorded on July 7, exceeding the previous high of 127 from the day prior, premier Daniel Andrews declared a re-enactment of a stage three lockdown on Tuesday. The protocols, effective tomorrow for six weeks, will restrain Melbourne residents from leaving their homes except for grocery shopping, caregiving, exercise, and work. A series of travel restrictions were issued on Monday, including the closure of borders between Victoria and New South Wales starting today. 

Art institutions are swiftly adjusting to adhere to the latest public health directions. Melbourne's primary art museum, The National Gallery of Victoria (NGV) will be temporarily closed from July 9. A revised schedule for its upcoming exhibition “Destiny,” featuring Australian artist Destiny Deacon’s first solo show in 15 years and slated to open on July 24, is yet to be announced. Heide Museum of Modern Art is also closing, affecting its current line-up of exhibitions which includes “Remember Me,” spotlighting Joy Hester, and “Memory Horizon,” featuring Carolyn Eskdale. Meanwhile, the Australian Centre for Contemporary Art (ACCA) has already closed and is planning to reopen on September 1 with “NIRIN NAARM”—a satellite exhibition of highlights from the 22nd Biennale of Sydney (BoS). Likewise, TarraWarra Museum of Art, also closed, is developing digital content on its social media pages including a virtual exhibition tour, essays, and creative activities tailored for children. 

Apart from museums, most galleries in the region have yet to publicize revisions to their exhibition timetables at the time of writing. These include Jon Campbell’s “Gone to see a man about a dog” at Sutton Gallery, previously set to open on July 11, Tolarno Galleries’ upcoming August show “The Sun Also Sets,” spotlighting Danie Mellor, and Melinda Harper’s solo exhibition at Neon Parc, slated to conclude on August 8. 

The earlier wave of Covid-19 prompted a series of delays and cancellations for Australia’s art scene, including the biannual Melbourne Art Fair, which shifted its June 2020 dates to February 4–7, 2021. Sydney Contemporary, originally slated for September, has also canceled its 2020 edition. BoS reopened its 22nd edition in June following its closure in March. 

Charmaine Kong is an editorial intern of ArtAsiaPacific.

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