The art market post Covid-19

Organising and visiting the Museums and Art Fairs with responsibility
February 18, 2021
A preview of the Bending Culture exhibition at Hoxton 253 in October 2020 in London. ©Mirko.Boffeli
A preview of the Bending Culture exhibition at Hoxton 253 in October 2020 in London. ©Mirko.Boffeli

The art market has changed as a result of the disruptions caused by the coronavirus pandemic. 

In various corners of the art market, people of the art world are giving a lot thought about how digital rooms can replace the personal interaction and how social bonds are affected by the absence of physical contact. 

First, I think that it is important to define what is implied by the term “art world”. In this particular context, I define the art world not just as the market of art, but the entire industry. I mean all the people involved directly and indirectly in the arts, from the production, commission, promotion, critics and art dealers


According to recents studies that I’ve found online, the digital experience is here to stay, not just because of Covid-19 as even before the pandemic, this business model had already been adopted by many art galleries and other art fairs. Despite these breakthroughs, the same studies agree it will not be able to debunk physical visits. There is no lack of argument to support this perception, some curators, traditionalists and purists believe that online exhibitions are copies, meanwhile young collectors feel they are more practical.

In my opinion, with the actual digital technology, it is challenging to offer virtual events to give art lovers a better experience of shows than the traditional physic. Instead of competing against each other, they should be combined as has happened with a few events before the recent lockdowns to expand and improve the experience.  

But with the projections that are currently being developed, the probability is that we will continue to live with Covid-19 as we currently do with seasonal flu viruses for a long time meaning that protecting visitors to exhibitions, galleries and  artfairs is the duty and morale responsibility of cultural promoters. 


In several countries, local laws have taken precautions to regulate access to public places. Most museum and galleries have applied many safety measures such as social distancing, the strict usage of masks, hand sanitiser, limited numbers of visitors, etc. Is this enough as precaution?


I am convinced that health security is a priority and it is the responsibility of the organisers of these artistic shows to take precautions not only to reassure the public to trust big gatherings once again. I am sure it will take some time before the general public feel safe and get back into old habits.


As part their ongoing efforts to keep their industry operational during these challenging times and the Covid-19 pandemic, airports and airline companies are investing in the latest solutions and technologies that can help the industry overcome the crisis. 


Scenarios that might seem to come from science fiction could be part of our life in a close future. We could have posters in front of museums or art fairs saying: “Please go through the disinfectant tunnel and thermal scanner, in addition to having your bags disinfected." These realities already in the test phase at some airports.


According to several specialists, the main challenge for post-coronavirus public space will be hygiene. In Hong Kong for instance, maintenance staff spill disinfectant liquid on the surfaces most affected, such as ramps or elevator buttons. The Pittsburgh Airport is testing floor cleaning robots capable of covering millions of square feet of surface per day, working 24/7. The robots even project UVC rays, an additional hygiene measure. Some companies, like Healthe, a US-based disinfection company, wants to provide airports with devices that rely on UVC rays so that they can strengthen their hygienic measures. Their Cleanse Portal looks like any other security gantry you see in airports and disinfects people in seconds.


Museum and art fairs should start to focus on investing in these new technologies as part of their adaptation and sustainability process.

About the author

Didier Demif

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