Art Basel’s parent company MCH Group decided earlier this month to cancel the eighth edition of its Hong Kong fair amid the outbreak of the coronavirus.
The satellite fair Art Central followed suit and announced the cancelation of its 2020 edition, saying in a statement that “the uncertainty has made it increasingly untenable to guarantee the safety and well-being of the public.”
Art Basel has now announced that it will launch online viewing rooms in March, providing a virtual sales platform to all the galleries that had signed up for this year’s Hong Kong fair at no cost.
“We are delighted to be able to premiere this new initiative now. While the Online Viewing Rooms cannot replace our 2020 fair in Hong Kong, we firmly hope that it will provide a strong support to all the galleries who were affected by the cancellation of our March show,” Adeline Ooi, the director of Art Basel, Asia, said in a press release.
Organizers have emphasized that the initiative is not meant to replace the future editions of the fairs in Basel, Miami Beach and Hong Kong, but rather to complement “the essential personal interactions that continue to underlie the art market.”
“As the art market continues to evolve, Art Basel has continually investigated how new technologies can give us new opportunities to support our galleries. The Online Viewing Rooms will provide galleries with a further possibility for engaging with our global audiences,” Marc Spiegler, the Global Director of Art Basel, said in a statement.
Participating galleries will have the opportunity to present up to ten works in the online showrooms, although The Art Newspaper reports that they can select different pieces during the entire duration of the exhibition.
Like the fairs, the online viewing rooms will begin with a preview for VIP card holders, followed by several days of general access.
This year, the platform will go live from March 20 through 25 via the fair’s app and website, with VIP preview days running from March 18 to 20.