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Antwerp Expo.
Antwerp Expo.

Covid-19 Sparks Second Museum Shutdown in Brussels—and a New Art Fair in Antwerp

With coronavirus cases spiking across Europe, museums in Brussels are shutting down for the second time since March, while Art Brussels has announced plans for a December art fair in the Belgian city of Antwerp, less than thirty miles away, Artnews reports.

At the behest of the Belgian government, the Brussels institutions will remain closed until November 19; Art Antwerp, as the new fair is named, is slated to open at the Antwerp Expo on December 10 and run through December 13. The organizers in a statement acknowledged that the pandemic played a part in the decision to launch the fair this year, noting that “[a]rt lovers are extremely keen to engage with art despite the context of the Covid-19 virus.”

“After months of restrictions and cancelled art fairs, it becomes essential to step out of our gallery spaces and connect with our peers and with collectors and art lovers on a larger scale,” echoed a fair committee of Belgian galleries in a statement.

Art Antwerp is expected to host roughly sixty exhibitors, among them Belgian galleries Axel Vervoordt, Baronian Xippas, Clearing, and Xavier Hufkens. Also showing will be galleries from surrounding countries, including Chantal Crousel and Perrotin, both based in Paris, which is currently under curfew as government officials struggle to contain the coronavirus.

This year’s iteration of Art Brussels was canceled several months ago, after first being moved from its scheduled April dates to June; museums in Brussels were shuttered from March to May. The Antwerp fair is going ahead with the approval of the Belgian National Security Council. Restrictions, including reserved time slots, widened aisles, extra entrances and exits, and a limit on the number of visitors allowed, will be in place at the fair. In compliance with Belgian Covid-19 rules, attendees will be required to wear masks and practice social distancing.