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Memorial Art Gallery, Strong, RMSC, Eastman Museum join list of arts closings


Four of Rochester’s biggest museums -- the Memorial Art Gallery, The Strong the Rochester Museum & Science Center and George Eastman Museum-- announced Friday afternoon that they will join the exploding number of closings driven by the coronavirus pandemic.

The Strong announced that it will be closed as of 8 p.m. Friday, with plans to re-open on April 13. RMSC closed its doors to the public at 5 p.m. Friday, with plans to stay closed through March 27.

Zoo closed, too The Seneca Park Zoo also is closed as a "precautionary action to protect the health and safety" of guests, volunteers, and staff. A statement from the zoo said, "No guests or volunteers will be admitted and all programs and events are canceled through March 31. At that time, Monroe County will reevaluate this decision. While the Zoo is closed, Animal Care staff will remain on the job and continue to provide excellent care to the animals."

MAG Director Jonathan Binstock said the decision to close the MAG as of 5 p.m. Friday was based on conversations with other arts organizations, as well as guidelines issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Monroe County and New York state departments of public health.

No date has been set for the reopening of the museum at 500 University Ave. There will be updates at The George Eastman Museum also did not set a date for reopening.

The reactions by local arts institutions to the coronavirus have been on a case-by-case basis. 

Geva Theatre Center announced on Friday that the remaining public performances of its two current shows, “Once” and “Cry It Out,” are canceled. But if the unions representing actors, directors, and set designers agree, Geva will tape performances, without an audience, for digital showings.

The University of Rochester on Monday called off all athletic and public events at any of its facilities through April 15 that would be expected to draw more than 100 people. The Hochstein School has canceled all concerts and meetings that might draw more than 50 people, but the music school remains open for small groups and individual lessons.

The uncertainty of the situation is reflected in the large number of postponements. On Tuesday, the Rochester Music Hall of Fame postponed its April 26 induction concert at Kodak Hall at Eastman Theatre, but left the door open for the show to go on in September or October.

“Our demographic is the population that is most vulnerable to this thing,” Hall President Jack Whittier said of the older audience that generally attends the concert.

Jeff Spevak is WXXI’s Arts & Life editor and reporter. He can be reached at

Jeff Spevak has been a Rochester arts reporter for nearly three decades, with seven first-place finishes in the Associated Press New York State Features Writing Awards while working for the Democrat and Chronicle.