Southwest museums, theaters cancel programs amid coronavirus outbreak

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Southwest Minneapolis museums and theaters are shutting galleries and canceling programming and performances as the Minnesota Department of Health seeks to combat the coronavirus outbreak by encouraging social distancing.

As of Friday, there were 14 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Minnesota, including three in Hennepin County. Gov. Tim Walz has urged Minnesotans to cancel events with more than 250 people and ensure people can spread out to a distance of six feet in smaller gatherings.

The Minneapolis Institute of Art announced Friday that it is closing its galleries; the museum had canceled all events, activities and tours a day earlier.

“We’re in touch with a lot of colleagues in the museum world, and a lot of museums across the nation are closing in an effort to help stop the spread of the virus,” Mia spokesperson Michaela Baltasar-Feyen said. “We’re committed to doing everything we can to promote the health and safety of our community.”

The museum’s non-essential staff are being directed to work from home.

The Walker Art Center wrote on its website Friday evening that it would “temporarily” close its galleries and restaurant, Esker Grove, starting Saturday, March 14.

The Museum of Russian Art in Windom is keeping its doors open but has decided to cancel all events and programming until further notice.

“The situation seems to amplify or change minute-to-minute and there’s no mandate yet telling us what we have to do,” said Michelle Massey, the museum’s director of public programs. “There are not of things to touch here, so the social distancing for regular visitors is easier to handle.”

The Minneapolis College of Art and Design has postponed all classes from March 16 through March 29 and has canceled all public events with 20 or more attendees through April 30. That includes a lecture with the Los Angeles-based artist Anna Sew Hoy scheduled for March 24 and a panel discussion scheduled for

The Jungle Theater in LynLake indefinitely postponed its play “Redwood,” which was scheduled to debut this weekend, to comply with Walz’ request to eliminate large-group activities.

“These are unprecedented times, and the Jungle, like every other theater in the country, is trying to make the best decisions in the swirling waters,” artistic director Sarah Rasmussen and interim managing director Robin Gillette wrote in a statement.

The Red Eye Theater was planning to open a production of Theo Langason’s “Welcome Home//Home Edition” in a rotating series of private homes, including performances in Whittier and Lyndale. The theater announced Thursday that the show would be postponed until the fall.

The Guthrie Theater has canceled performances through early April.