24 March 2020

UPDATED: National Gallery shuts as institutions heed new COVID-19 advice

| Ian Bushnell
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National Gallery of Australia

The National Gallery of Australia is closed until further notice. Photo: Jack Mohr.

Canberra’s national institutions are moving to follow the new coronavirus advice, with the National Gallery of Australia, Questacon, the National Library of Australia and the Museum of Australian Democracy at Old Parliament House closing their doors.

The NGA says it will be closed until further notice, based on new advice from Australian health experts, new guidelines for indoor gatherings and an increasing need to comply with social distancing.

“The health and wellbeing of staff and visitors is the National Gallery of Australia’s top priority, and this precautionary measure will ensure their safety and assist health services in their efforts against novel coronavirus, COVID-19,” it said.

The Gallery will provide refunds to people who have pre-purchased tickets for the Matisse & Picasso exhibition, and will be in touch with ticket holders soon.

“This is an uncertain time for everyone, and our thoughts are with our extended family of artists and the arts industry, and our loyal community of members, supporters, friends and visitors,” the gallery said.

Questacon said the temporary closure included cancellation of its upcoming public and education programs, along with the Atomic Cafe shutting its doors.

All galleries, cafes and restaurants are closed at Old Parliament House.

The National Library will be closed to visitors until further notice from Tuesday, including the reading rooms, Exhibition Galleries, bookshop and cafes.

Director-General Dr Marie-Louise Ayres said staff would continue working behind the scenes to keep all the Library’s popular digital services available.

“Our doors may be closed, but we are ready to continue connecting and sharing information with our community via our digital platforms,” she said

Students can access the Library’s online Digital Classroom, with learning resources available for primary and secondary students.

Visitors can continue to Ask A Librarian for help with research questions or navigating the collections; explore the Library from home via Trove, the National Library Catalogue and eResources; and attend webinars, listen to podcasts and read blogs.

The Library’s online bookshop will also remain open.

The Australian War Memorial has closed until further notice, but it will hold a private, nationally televised Anzac Day commemorative service from the Commemorative Area and Hall of Memory on Anzac Day. The traditional Dawn Service, National Ceremony and veterans’ march will not take place.

The National Museum of Australia and the National Portrait Gallery have also closed.

The scheduled April opening of the Museum’s upcoming exhibition, Endeavour Voyage: The Untold Stories of Cook and the First Australians, has been postponed.

All public programs at the NMA including Virtual Reality and Kspace have been cancelled. The Museum is contacting anyone who has purchased tickets to arrange refunds. Alternatively visitors are encouraged to contact Museum staff at tickets@nma.gov.au or via Eventbrite.

People planning to attend the Museum for a conference or event, should talk with organisers or the source of your ticket purchases.

The Museum’s cafe and onsite shop are also closed, but the online shop continues to operate.

Canberra Museum and Gallery, and historic places such as Lanyon and Calthorpes House have also closed until further notice.

The institutions are asking people to monitor social media for updates.


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Stephen Saunders2:43 pm 23 Mar 20

Even the Museum of Australian Democracy has shut down. No irony intended. But how good is AWM?

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