The Harvard Art Museums will remain closed through at least December 31, 2020, Director Martha Tedeschi wrote in an email to “friends and colleagues” of the museums Wednesday.
The museums shut down along with much of the rest of Harvard's campus in mid-March, toward beginning of the United States’ COVID-19 outbreak. Their decision to stay closed was informed by Harvard’s broader coronavirus safety protocols, Tedeschi wrote; only a small percentage of the student body is present on campus, and all teaching for the year will take place remotely.
The Commonwealth of Massachusetts allowed museums — among other institutions, including movie theaters and libraries — to open when it entered the third phase of its reopening plan on July 8. Few museums in Greater Boston opened immediately, however. The Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum opened on July 15, while the Boston Museum of Fine Arts is not set to open until September 26. At the time, Harvard Art Museums did not set a reopening date.
“We have been heartened to see some of our peer institutions reopen and begin to bring visitors back in safe, limited ways,” Tedeschi wrote. “As a part of the Harvard community, we are supporting the university’s careful efforts to limit the number of people on campus this fall.”
Starting in late September, some staff will be able to work onsite in the Harvard museums, supporting “high-priority” endeavors such as research, remote teaching, new acquisitions, conservation, and preparations for reopening.
Tedeschi encouraged patrons to make use of the museums’ online resources while the facilities remain closed to the public. Offerings include recorded talks, essays, and virtual tours.
“While we know virtual resources cannot take the place of experiencing the collections in person, they are nevertheless powerful in their own right and accessible to all, whether near or far,” Tedeschi wrote.
Tedeschi wrote that in the coming months, the museums will evaluate their ability to reopen next year in person “pending university approval and guidance.”
“We look forward to welcoming everyone back to the museums as soon as it is safe for the entire community,” she added.
—Staff writer Oliver L. Riskin-Kutz can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @OLRiskinKutz