Coronavirus Outbreak Postpones Venice Biennale, Major Trade Shows
The Venice Architecture Biennale announced today that the start date of the 2020 international exhibition has been postponed from May 23 to August 29. The show will still conclude on November 29, as previously announced. In statement on its website, organizers said that the outbreak of COVID-19, also known as coronavirus, “poses a risk to the realization of the exhibition in its entirety in time for the announced opening date (May 23rd), thereby jeopardizing its quality,” and that “a short-term postponement could be ineffective.”
It’s the latest move in a string of schedule changes for major trade shows and exhibitions in Europe. Milan’s Salone del Mobile has been postponed from April 21–26 to June 16–21, while and Light + Building in Frankfurt has been delayed from March 8–13 to September 27 to October 2.
Decisions to reschedule the events stem from concerns over the growing spread of the virus, which has (as of March 4) infected over 3,000 people in Italy and 244 in Germany.
The Board of Federlegno Arredo Eventi, which organizes Salone del Mobile, stated that “The confirmation of the change of date for the trade fair—strongly supported by the Mayor of Milan Giuseppe Sala—means that the manufacturers, in a major show of responsibility, will be able to present their finalized work to an international public that sees the annual appointment with the Salone del Mobile.Milano as a benchmark for creativity and design.”
The team behind Light + Building said, “The unexpected appearance of COVID-19 in Italy since last weekend demanded a new analysis of the situation in close cooperation with the public-health authorities of the City of Frankfurt.” Organizers of the German event also noted that administering health checks on guests from China, in conjunction with travel restrictions, would be “extremely challenging.”
On Saturday, February 29, the French government banned gatherings of more than 5,000 people due to the virus. Those events affected also include the MIPIM property fair in Cannes, France, which has been postponed from March 10–13 to June 2–5. The Louvre in Paris closed its doors to the public on Sunday, March 1 after an emergency meeting where staff voted not to open the museum. It reopened Wednesday, March 4 after a three-day closure.
The respiratory virus, which originated in Wuhan, China, last December, has infected over 92,000 people and spread to 70 countries to date, affecting travel, business, and daily life for those within the architecture and design communities and beyond.
Editor's note: This story, which was originally published on February 26, is being updated periodically with new developments.