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Walters Art Museum, Baltimore Museum of Art to close through end of 2020 in light of rising COVID-19 cases

The Walters Art Museum and the Baltimore Museum of Art will close Wednesday for the rest of the year in light of a surge in coronavirus cases in the area and across the county, museum officials announced Tuesday.

The Walters plans to reopen in “mid-January,” according to Julia Marciari-Alexander, the museum’s executive director and CEO. The BMA will reopen Jan. 6 “in accordance with health and safety requirements,” director Christopher Bedford said.

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When the Walters reopened in September after first closing in March, staff members called for the museum to close for the rest of the pandemic, saying the museum was unsafe for them and visitors.

While Marciari-Alexander said the museum had taken “successful and extensive precautions” to make visitors and staff as safe as possible, she said “these discouraging COVID-19 numbers clearly signal that this temporary public closure is best for everyone’s health and safety.”

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With the coronavirus pandemic and hospitalizations surging across Maryland, the state on Tuesday reported 1,667 new coronavirus cases and 32 deaths tied to COVID-19, the most in one day since mid-June. Health officials are asking people not to travel or gather with those outside their households for this week’s Thanksgiving holiday.

“Public health officials have made it clear that group gatherings over the holiday season could act as a super-spreader event unless we all do our part to help slow community transmission of the virus,” Marciari-Alexander wrote.

The BMA, too, will miss seeing visitors during the holidays, but officials are prioritizing the health of the community, staff and volunteers in deciding to close, Bedford said.

“We hope that by doing our part to help slow the spread of the virus in the community now, we will be able to reopen the entire museum in the new year,” he said.

The BMA will continue to employ its entire staff during the closure, Bedford said.

The BMA’s outdoor sculpture gardens will remain open Wednesdays through Sundays from 10 a.m. through dusk, weather permitting. The BMA Shop, Gertrude’s Chesapeake Kitchen, and Stripes and Stars: Reclaiming Lakota Independence, a one-gallery exhibition adjacent to the East Lobby, will remain open Wednesdays through Sundays from 10 a.m. through 5 p.m.

Masks and social distancing are required in the building and the gardens.

Both art museums are also offering digital experiences for those who want a virtual visit.

“We appreciate your continued understanding during these challenging times,” Marciari-Alexander said in the release. “Thank you for your support, and we look forward to welcoming you back to the Walters.”

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