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How Boston’s cultural institutions are being impacted by the coronavirus



As the total number of confirmed cases of coronavirus in Massachusetts continues to climb, more and more schools, businesses, and organizations are closing or changing their procedures as a result of the global pandemic.

The Boston area’s cultural institutions are no different, with a planned film festival being delayed, concerts being canceled, and a museum that is closed until further notice.

Here is a running list of coronavirus-related updates in the Boston arts and culture world.

Know of any closures not on our list? Email tips@boston.com.

JFK Library closed ‘until further notice’ due to possible employee exposure

On Wednesday, the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum announced it would be closed until further notice “out of an abundance of caution” after learning that two employees attended a conference last week where other attendees were confirmed to have contracted the coronavirus. According to a press release, neither of the library employees have shown symptoms and both are in self-quarantine.

Although the museum will cancel or reschedule large public events set to be held during the next few weeks, staff plan to reopen the museum “as soon as possible.”

“Our concern for the safety of our employees, visitors, and surrounding community are paramount,” said JFK Library Director Alan Price. “We believe it is important for us to shut down operations during this time to allow for the cleaning of all staff and visitor areas.”

Prior to Wednesday afternoon’s announcement, callers dialing the main line of the museum were met with a recorded message announcing that the institution would be closed, with no further explanation given.

Irish Film Festival delayed until November

Boston’s Irish Film Festival, which was scheduled to be held March 19-22 at the Somerville Theatre, has been postponed until Nov. 19-22.

“This decision, albeit disappointing, is being made to ensure we are doing what is needed to keep everyone involved safe and healthy,” organizers wrote in an email. “2020 is an exciting year for the Irish Film Festival as it celebrates its 20th anniversary, and we want to do everything we can to make sure it’s a success for everyone involved – from the talented filmmakers to the diverse audience that attends.”

Events at Harvard venues like Sanders Theater and Harvard Film Archive are cancelled, moved, or postponed

In the wake of Harvard University closing its doors through the end of April, cultural institutions on campus — including performance venue Sanders Theater and the Harvard Film Archive — announced a wave of cancelled, rescheduled, and relocated events.

Upcoming Sanders Theater events like Aoife O’Donovan’s “Songs and Strings” and “A St. Patrick’s Day Celtic Sojourn” have been moved to the Somerville Theatre and Wilbur Theatre, respectively, while Friday’s “An Evening with Josh Ritter” has been canceled. The Harvard Film Archive, meanwhile, announced that it would be closed through the end of April and planned to reschedule all of its programming.

Boston Baroque postpones and cancels remaining performances from 2019-20 season

Harvard isn’t the only school whose closure has affected arts performances. Following the closure of New England Conservatory until May 1, Boston Baroque postponed its March performances of Vivaldi’s “The Four Seasons” and “Gloria” until an undetermined date later this spring, and canceled its scheduled opera production of Handel’s “Ariodante.”

“In light of New England Conservatory’s decision to close its campus to the public, and as the governor of Massachusetts has declared a state of emergency throughout the commonwealth, we feel this is the most prudent path forward, given the uncertain situation at hand and the limited options available to us,” said Boston Baroque executive director Jennifer Ritvo Hughes in a press release. “That said, the arts play an important role in times of challenge, and it is my hope that Boston Baroque — through our recordings and videos — will continue to be a source of inspiration and joy throughout the coming weeks and months, albeit in a different medium.”

ACE Comic Con has now been postponed

On Wednesday evening, ACE Comic Con announced on social media that it would be postponing the annual fan fest set to be held from March 20-22 at the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center.

“After many hours of consultation with the BCEC, a city owned facility, it was determined that running the event at its regularly scheduled date/time is not possible due to ‘force majeure,’” organizers wrote. “We are working with the BCEC to reschedule the event, and we will do our best to bring ACE Comic Con Northeast back to Boston Strong!”

Prior to the postponement, ACE had announced new guidelines would be in place surrounding interactions with its celebrity presenters, which were set to include Chris Evans, Chris Hemsworth, Jake Gyllenhaal, and Tom Hiddleston.

“During Photo Ops & Autographs – Handshakes, hugs, requests to hold props during Photo Ops, and physical contact will not be permitted,” the festival wrote on Facebook. “No gifts, letters, or cards will be accepted by celebrity guests so we ask that you do not bring in those items.”

This is a developing story. Check back for additional information as it becomes available. 

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