Baltimore Museum of Art
Baltimore Museum of Art Photo by Ethan McLeod

The Baltimore Museum of Art and the Walters Art Museum on Wednesday will temporarily close most of their galleries to the public due to rising numbers of coronavirus cases in Maryland and across the United States.

The BMA plans to reopen on Jan. 6 “in accordance with health and safety requirements,” while the Walters said it will reopen “mid-January after the holiday season,” museum officials said in statements.

The closures come about two months after the BMA and the Walters both reopened to the public for the first time in six months on Sept. 16. The museums had been closed since March due to the pandemic.

The BMA’s Alan and Janet Wurtzburger Sculpture Garden and Ryda and Robert H. Levi Sculpture Garden will remain open Wednesdays through Sundays from 10 a.m. to dusk unless there is inclement weather. p.m.

The BMA will also keep open the BMA Shop, Gertrude’s Chesapeake Kitchen and “Stripes and Stars: Reclaiming Lakota Independence,” a one-gallery exhibition next to the East Lobby. Those spaces will be open Wednesdays through Sundays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

The sculpture gardens and the BMA Shop will be closed on Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Day.

Anyone entering the building or the sculpture gardens must wear a face mask and maintain social distancing.

All BMA staff will remain employed during the closure.

“Though we will miss seeing visitors during the holidays, the health of our community, staff, and volunteers is our utmost concern during this unprecedented global health crisis,” Christopher Bedford, BMA Dorothy Wagner Wallis Director, said in a statement. “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.”

Patrons can purchase museum merchandise online from the BMA Shop and have it shipped for free through Dec. 1.

The BMA will continue to offer virtual gallery walks of their 2020 Vision exhibitions, including “A Perfect Power: Motherhood and African Art” and “Adelyn Breeskin: Curating a Legacy.”

The BMA will also offer other digital experiences, such as arts and crafts projects for families to do at home through BMA’s “Free Family Sundays at Home” and “Art-To-Go” programs, behind-the-scenes looks of museum work on BMA Stories, and virtual tours through BMA Go Mobile.

Julia Marciari-Alexander, the Walters’ Andrea B. & John H. Laporte Director, said the Walters made the decision to temporarily close after monitoring COVID-19 data metrics and health officials’ guidance.

“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 said in a statement.

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

During the closure, people can still visit the Walters’ “Virtual Museum,” where they can look at the museum’s online collection and engage with assorted programs and resources.

The Walters’ Museum Store will also be closed, but patrons can shop online. On Nov. 29, the store will offer a 20% discount for members and a 10% discount for non-members.

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

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Marcus Dieterle

Marcus Dieterle is the managing editor of Baltimore Fishbowl. He returned to Baltimore in 2020 after working as the deputy editor of the Cecil Whig newspaper in Elkton, Md. He can be reached at