Good morning and welcome back to one of the last weeks of 2021. AN will soon be rounding up the biggest stories of the year (along with trends, controversies, who we lost, and more), but here are the news stories you need to know today as we roll into a long Christmas weekend.
As COVID infections skyrocket, museums are once again closing across Europe
Cast your mind back to March, 2020—the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic saw museums around the world shutter as infections exploded unfettered, with a broad shift towards digital programming to help ease our quarantines. Then came the vaccines and mask mandates, and those same institutions began to reopen (albeit with safety precautions and occupancy limits in place), and largely pared back their online offerings in the name of “getting back to normal.”
Now, however, with cases of the more transmissible Omicron variant exploding around the world, museums across Europe are once again temporarily shutting their doors as we head into another long winter. In London, for example, the Natural History Museum has been forced to close until December 27 due to staffing shortages, and as Artnet News reports, the Wellcome Collection and the Foundling Museum have chosen to close as well. Meanwhile, national mandates in Denmark and the Netherlands have shuttered all museums in both countries until COVID cases abate. While no U.S. institution has shut down again yet, it may only be a matter of time.
H/t to Artnet News
Hollywood’s iconic Cinerama Dome and the ArcLight will reopen under new management
Cinephiles feared the worst this April when news broke that both the venerable Cinerama Dome and attached ArcLight theaters in Hollywood would permanently shutter after a year of being battered by low attendance (driven in no small part by COVID), but now it appears both have been saved. The Los Angeles-based Decurion Corporation, parent company of Pacific Theatres and ArcLight Cinemas, had closed both venues at the start of the pandemic and made the decision to ultimately not reopen in 2021, but the eagle-eyed owner of the Save Arclight Cinemas Twitter account spotted a public notice to sell alcoholic beverages on the premise posted to the door of the dome.
The name on the permit, DT Operator LLC, is a holding company of Decurion, and a source not publicly allowed to comment on record told the Los Angeles Times that the reopening could happen “as early as next year.”
H/t to the Los Angeles Times
Richmond, Virginia’s new tallest tower will sprout thanks to CoStar Group
A 26-story skyscraper is reportedly in the works for Richmond, Virginia, as part of the CoStar Group’s planned office campus expansion. Located on the James River in Downtown Richmond, the $460 million campus project will also entail an additional new six-story tower, complete with a fitness center, conference rooms, and restaurant and retail space. The 26-story building, designed by Pickard Chilton, on the other hand, is expected to reach 510 feet tall and the expansion will span 750,000 square feet with room for 2,000 to 3,000 employees across both towers. Construction on the campus expansion is expected to begin in 2023 and finish sometime in 2024.
H/t to The Real Deal
This defunct Long Island lighthouse is now a remote artists’ getaway
Looking to get away? Really get away? What about a lighthouse on a remote pile of rocks in Long Island, New York? Curbed took a visit to the restored lighthouse of installation artist Randy Polumbo in Plum Gut. Built in 1899, the Orient Lighthouse was falling apart until Polumbo, on a whim, purchased the entire tower off of a government auction site for only $5,000 and meticulously breathed new life into what is now an isolated artists’ retreat accessible only by ferry.
H/t to Curbed
Nuremberg’s Nazi-era Congress Hall will be converted into the city’s new arts center
The still unfinished Congress Hall was begun in Nuremberg, Germany, in 1935 as a party hall for the Nazis, but construction was paused during World War II and never resumed. The U-shaped hall, modeled after the Roman Coliseum and intended to hold Nazi rallies of up to 50,000—but without the roof, the project has instead become a large open-air courtyard. That’s all set to change, however, now that the city has approved covering the remaining gap and converting the hall into the new home of Nuremberg State Theatre’s opera and ballet companies.
The move would only be temporary; the opera’s current home is undergoing a 10-year renovation and they would return once work is done. The Congress Hall could then become a contemporary arts center, but some historians have questioned whether the Nazi legacy of the building can ever be washed away, or if attempts at repurposing it are a lost cause.
H/t to Global Construction Review
The Toronto City Council bans robots on sidewalks
On Friday, December 17, the Toronto City Council voted to ban all robots from the city’s sidewalks and bike lanes, citing the need to study the issue and the potential hazards to the elderly and mobility impaired. Although delivery robot startup Tiny Mile had been using robots to deliver along sidewalks since September of 2020, the company voluntarily pulled its fleet in a show of good faith.
H/t to The Robot Report