The Cincinnati Art Museum will be closed through Jan. 12 and the Taft Museum of Art and Contemporary Arts Center will be closed through Jan. 13.
The temporary closures come as the area experiences a major uptick in COVID cases. On Dec. 29, Gov. Mike DeWine deployed 1,250 Ohio National Guardsmen to support operations at state hospitals, bringing the total to 2,300 deployed since Dec. 17. In a release, DeWine's office said, "The mobilization comes on the same day the state set an all-time high for the total number of COVID-19 hospitalizations during the pandemic."
The Cincinnati Art Museum called the pandemic an "indirect factor" on its decision to pause operations. Instead, they said the goal is "to allow the museum’s 235 employees and hundreds of volunteers to focus on their personal healing and community service."
“For the past two years, our museum has protected and cared for our community, our staff and a broad network of educational services. Cincinnati Art Museum was the first museum to re-open across a three-state region in 2020. Now, our staff and volunteers need an intermission to focus on our health and wellness. Whether employees choose to reconnect with family or work in a food bank, this pause allows us to grow individually while we all grow collectively,” said Cameron Kitchin, Cincinnati Art Museum director, in a release. “I’m confident that healing and service is a path to long-term strength.”
The museum's Art Climb and digital resources are still open and free during the closure. The Cincinnati Art Museum itself will reopen to the public on Jan. 13.
In contrast, the Contemporary Arts Center said its decision to close was in fact due to the pandemic, writing on Facebook, "In consideration of rising Covid-19 cases, the CAC will be closing briefly to support the safety of our community and staff. "
Virtual experiences on their website are still open, as is Fausto, the cafe inside the CAC lobby (hours are 10:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m. Monday through Friday). The CAC will reopen Jan. 14.
The Taft says ticketholders for events slated to take place during that time will be notified about rescheduling or refund opportunities. The museum's permanent collection is also viewable online.
The Taft is currently in the process of a Bicentennial Infrastructure Project to help preserve and restore the historic home in which it is located. A portion of the Taft's collection is currently on view at the Cincinnati Museum Center in the exhibit Borrowed Gems.
For more information on the Cincinnati Art Museum closure, visit cincinnatiartmuseum.org. For more information about the Contemporary Arts Center closure, visit contemporaryartscenter.org. And for more information about the Taft Museum of Art closure, visit taftmuseum.org.
Cincinnati's coronavirus cases increased in December, which was largely attributed to the virus spreading during indoor Thanksgiving gatherings. According to city data, cases spiked with the Delta variant from July until October before going down for a few weeks and rising again in December as the Omicron variant rapidly spread.
As of Jan. 4, the city of Cincinnati has 560 new COVID-19 cases, though that's likely an undercount, as it frequently takes health departments a few days to update data after weekends and holidays. Of the new cases, 160 are age 20-29, 111 are 30-39, and 71 are 40-49.
Doctors have warned that gathering indoors — particularly with unvaccinated individuals, without masking and without social distancing — increases the likelihood to both spread and get COVID-19.
COVID-19 continues to be a problem in Greater Cincinnati as well as throughout Ohio, Kentucky and the nation. On Jan. 3, Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear said that on Dec. 30, the state had 6,441 COVID-19 cases, the highest-ever for a single day (the previous highest number was 5,742 cases on Jan. 6, 2021).
On Dec. 29, Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine reported that 5,356 residents were hospitalized with COVID-19, surpassing the previous record of 5,308 hospitalizations from Dec. 15, 2020.
During a Dec. 22 briefing, city officials gathered to share local COVID-19 numbers, urge vaccination and beg residents to reconsider indoor holiday gatherings in order to slow the spread of the virus. At the time, city health commissioner Dr. Melba Moore said that 69% of the Cincinnati region has been vaccinated, but breakthrough COVID-19 cases do occur in part because of the large number of unvaccinated individuals who can easily transmit the virus and because the virus continues to mutate.
On Dec. 24, outgoing Cincinnati Mayor John Cranley announced that he had tested positive for COVID-19 after coming into contact with someone who had the virus. Cranley said that he experienced mild symptoms, largely attributed to his full vaccination and booster.
Leaders at regional hospital systems have been saying for months that they're under great strain due to COVID-19. Exhausted healthcare workers are fearful of another coronavirus spike like the one that devastated the country last winter.
During a Dec. 15 media briefing with Hamilton County officials, Dr. Richard Lofgren, UC Health's president and CEO, said that COVID-19 continues to be a big threat within the region.
"If there's any message I have that's highlighted in the data, it's that this pandemic is not over. It is active and alive and is actually overwhelming our health systems," Lofgren said.
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